Two young tinkerers have surprised themselves by winning the first Waitangi Day Billy Cart Contest, organised by Levin's Uniting Church.

Though the win was a bit of a fizzer because Lachlan, 10, and Charlie, 11, pupils from Manakau School, were the only entrants.

Organiser Allen Little said he wanted the contest to be about building a cart as a team by kids themselves.

"Advice from parents was allowed but hands-off as far as adults helping with the design and build of the cart."

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That's exactly what Lachlan and Charlie did with their green Termonator. Though this wasn't about getting ready for a go-cart race the boys wanted a cool name for their cart just in case, to impress upon any other competitors they were going to win.

They built the entire cart themselves, scrounging for materials and meticulously sanding the timber parts. They had a set of front wheels available but had to hunt for the back wheels. When the cart was done they took it apart again to paint it thoroughly and then they reassembled it.

"We did lots of sanding to make all sides nice and smooth."

They put in the axles and wanted to have a proper steering wheel, but the lack of parts demanded they come up with another solution, so they found a long bit of strong string to help them steer their cart. They also had to find tyres. Charlie found the other set of wheels.

Though they had no adult help, both boys said they had built carts before with their dads, so they had some experience and expertise in what might be needed for the job.

Lachlan built the seat. His dad Joe said Lachlan is a keen tinkerer.

"He has his own work bench and his own tools. He's often out doing things before we're even up."

Both boys are going to challenge their schoolmates to build a billy cart next year, so they can test the fruits of their labour in a race. All up they said it took them five weeks to built their cart.

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When the contest organisers rang to say they'd won it was as if an extra layer of icing had arrived for the cake as it was Lachlan's 10th birthday that day.

"A good effort and great quality from these guys. They did it exactly right," said contest organiser Allen Little, who had dreamt of scores of kids having fun over the summer building a cart and bringing it to Adventure Park in Levin on Waitantgi Day to be judged.

Initially disappointed there was only one entry, he is determined to organise another contest next summer.

He and Senior Constable Simon Carter, who was to be the judge of the contest, are rethinking their approach so more kids will jump at the chance to participate next year.