Greg Bengston, at nearly 22, has completed his apprenticeship with Rankin Building Ltd in Pahiatua after four and a half years. The certificate was delayed due to the lockdown.

"Greg approached me for a job himself and had dreamed to be a builder, which I find is quite good," said Rankin Building Ltd owner Jason Rankin. "He didn't have mum or dad prompt him, he came by himself when he was at Boys' High. I gave him a trial and he showed huge promise, was early to work, keen to stay late to learn more, always asking questions and had a work ethic.

"With apprenticeships, we believe in giving back to the trade and the community. There are two more on the way, one signed on Monday and the other is on a Gateway scheme student through Tararua College and may sign at the end of this year," I am lucky as my foreman was one of my former apprentices. He left, went to Australia, then came back to us, so knows how we operate and now is a current volunteer fire fighter for our local community.

"Covid-19 has bought many challenging demands onto the trade but feel that it is coming right for us. If we all support each other we will all help each other out from these times.

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"I have been lucky with Jason, as I have learned all aspects of building," said Greg. "I have had the opportunity to install new roofs, hang doors and pour our own foundations which many apprentices don't get to do.

"Jason mainly specialises in new homes which has given me a real background on how all the trades work together, sometimes I don't know how Jason does it bringing all the trades in at the right time to keep the project moving. I have been extremely lucky as in my time we have built over 14 new homes and six major extensions along with all the smaller jobs that we do. The hardest thing I found was thinking in advance of the project while working on a particular aspect.

Greg was given a job opportunity in Canada through his apprenticeship, to build a log cabin in the middle of nowhere in a big hunting arena.

"I had to jump at the opportunity, I didn't know when another one would show up. I left for around four months. You couldn't just pop off to Mitre 10 for a few extra screws. All the timber on site was milled there. It was an awesome experience. It was a distance of 200km to the nearest road. Everything such as windows came in by float plane - the only access.

"My most rewarding time being a builder is when I'm driving around town and saying 'I've done that' - there is something to show at the end of the day that you've completed yourself. I feel very proud of what I've done, especially having a qualification now.

"Hopefully one day I'll be able to build my own house. I would like to thank Jason and Shannan for allowing me to work for them and sharing his knowledge with me."

Greg is an avid hunting and a talented smallbore rifle shooter. He represented New Zealand last year in the New Zealand vs Scotland Postal Match. To qualify the 10 best shooters from the North Island vs South Island were chosen to compete against Scotland. Greg had a cracker score of 399/400 - almost perfect.

After a break, Greg hadn't been shooting for a year but came back with an impressive 100.6 on the second card back. "I'm pretty rapt with that, it was out of the park," he said.

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He will have plenty of challenges ahead of him as he now will complete in the apprentice of the year under Rankin Building Ltd while continuing to work for Jason.