A 1.5m-high children's castle playhouse has helped Cameron Diack win the regional final of the New Zealand Certified Builders Carpentry Apprentice Challenge.

The 22-year-old Tauranga building apprentice was announced the regional final winner at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology's Windermere campus on Saturday.

Diack said his first apprentice challenge was enjoyable, fun and a "little bit stressful".

"I cracked a little bit under pressure," he said.


"Everything I did trust worked but the one thing that I did different was the one thing that went wrong," he said.

He hoped to learn to trust himself heading into the national final at Rotorua in May when he would compete for the Ken Read Memorial Read Trophy and a chance to win a $50,000 prize pack.

Apprentices had eight hours to construct a 1.5m-high children's castle playhouse, with turret and a working drawbridge, which would be donated to local community groups.

Paul James Builders apprentice James Irvine placed second and Proform Homes apprentice Cameron McCaskie placed third.

James Irvine placed second in the competition. Photo / Andrew Warner
James Irvine placed second in the competition. Photo / Andrew Warner

A former farmer in the South Island, Diack moved up north to pursue a building career with Tauranga company Jones Builders.

He says he enjoys interacting with clients, seeing the end product and people's reactions to his creations.

"I am quite bad at picturing how things are going to look, so seeing the end product and how people react is pretty cool," Diack said.

He said winning the challenge would mean "a very happy boss and a very happy family".


Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology faculty leader of trades and logistics Brian Dillon said the competition was a rare chance for apprentices to compete against their peers.

"They don't always get that chance on site, where they are often under the direction of their employer or supervisor, and the competitive aspect adds a bit of excitement too," Dillon said.

Cameron McCaskie placed third. Photo / Andrew Warner
Cameron McCaskie placed third. Photo / Andrew Warner

Cameron's top tips:

1. Take your time. Getting it right the first time is a good timesaver.

2. Keep your workspace tidy.

3. Sharper tools always make for a better job.

4. Make sure you wear the right gear for the right job.