Russell man Matt Hatchard has been crowned the country's top building apprentice after winning the New Zealand Certified Builders (NZCB) Apprentice Challenge.

Hatchard, 36, who is in his third year with Fox Build, took out the title from 18 others from across the country who won their regional competitions last month.

The final was held at the NZCB annual conference in Rotorua over the weekend. Finalists were judged on examples of their work, dedication towards their apprenticeship, and a presentation to the more than 700 NZCB member builders attending the conference.

Robert Piutau, 33, from Auckland was second, and Thomas Ashley, 25, from Nelson third.

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NZCB CEO Grant Florence said a record number of entries meant this year's challenge was highly competitive, and all finalists had impressive skills.

"At a time when we need more skilled builders than ever to meet increasing demand, it's great to see the enthusiasm and aptitude of all the apprentices taking part in this competition. Our annual NZCB Apprentice Challenge is a great opportunity for us to celebrate emerging talent in this crucial sector of the economy," Florence said.

As well as the recognition from winning the national competition, Hatchard heads home with a prize pack valued at $20,000.

The apprentice challenge is held in association with the Industry Training Association Building, which offers the building industry's most comprehensive apprentice training scheme combining extensive theoretical and practical training.