Southern region’s top building apprentice announced

7 September 2020

Building apprentice Chris O'Connell has been named the Southern Registered Master Builders CARTERS 2020 Apprentice of the Year. The 25-year-old from Dunedin was trained through BCITO and is employed by Hammond and Campbell Builders. 

The apprentices were judged on a two-hour practical challenge – where they built a tool box, and their initial entry submission. The top 10 in the region progressed to an interview with the judging panel, which was followed by an onsite visit where contestants discussed their project.

The results were announced at an awards evening on Friday 4 September at Motorcycle Mecca.

Chris impressed the judges with his knowledge and professionalism throughout the competition. 

"Chris is a very capable young man with a real desire to learn. He has a confident manner yet ease about him. He has found his niche in the building industry and is very well thought of by his team. The quality of his workmanship was apparent during the site visit. During this he demonstrated his excellent understanding of building products and their application. His detail, organisation and finished work must be commended."

"Overall, Chris is a reliable guy with a great personality. The judges can see he will do very well with current employer and into the future in this industry."

Second place in the regional competition was awarded to 27-year old Brendan Smith from Invercargill, who was trained by BCITO and is employed by Amalgamated Builders Ltd. Judges said Brendan came across as someone who can clearly prove his worth as a builder. He is a good communicator and someone who is keen to learn more about his trade.

"He obviously loves the challenge of complex projects. It is great to see Brendan in commercial construction, building a broad range of skills working on some very complex jobs."

"As well as commercial construction, Brendan brings previous experience in residential housing which includes working in tough conditions on Stewart Island. "

Third place was awarded to 28-year-old Josh Parkhill from Invercargill, who was trained by BCITO and is employed by RDR Builders Ltd.

"Josh has improved considerably in the last 12 months since the last competition. He has grown in confidence and as a result his presentation style has improved."

"He has shown the judges an aptitude to manage projects without supervision, proving he is a very capable young man. It is obvious Josh is relishing the opportunity to be given more responsibility onsite and run his own jobs. In the process, he is building his confidence and expanding his knowledge."

Chris will now go on to compete against the winners from the other eight regions at the national CARTERS Apprentice of the Year 2020 competition in Auckland this November.

1st Place (centre): Chris O’Connell employed by Hammond and Campbell Builders
2nd Place (right): Brendan Smith employed by Amalgamated Builders Ltd
3rd Place (left): Josh Parkhill employed by RDR Builders Ltd

About the Registered Master Builders CARTERS Apprentice of the Year 2020:
Each regional winner receives a prize pack that includes $2,000 to spend at CARTERS, a place at an Outward-Bound course (plus travel costs), and an apprentice membership with Registered Master Builders Association. 

For the national competition, each finalist will undergo a 45-minute interview with the national judging panel. They will then compete in a practical carpentry challenge, held on 7 November in Auckland at the ASB Showgrounds. The event is open to the public. 

The winner of the Registered Master Builders CARTERS 2020 Apprentice of the Year will be announced at an awards dinner on 7 November. 

The Registered Master Builders Apprentice of the Year competition is made possible thanks to principal sponsor CARTERS, and the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO).

For more information, visit