Master Brick & Block Layers NZ held its annual conference in Tauranga on 14-15 September also celebrating the 2023 Firth Apprentice of the Year Silver Trowel first place winner and second place runner-up. The winner of the Silver Trowel Award went to Kiri Cooper of Woods Waetford Bricklayers Ltd. Second place went to Leyn Paki Royal Contracting Limited.

Our Taranaki-based Training Advisor, Craig Finlayson, proudly took on the role of Portfolio Judge. Craig is a qualified brick-and-block layer and is more than well-placed to evaluate the apprentices, saying that Kiri was an impressive candidate and a worthy winner. Watch out for 2024's first e-newsletter where there will be an in-depth interview with Kiri.

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The competition is open to all apprentices who have completed their Stage II block course. This is a portfolio entry highlighting previous work that the apprentice has undertaken with endorsements from their employer and BCITO Training Advisor.

There were four entrants in total, and we congratulate them all for submitting their application – the other apprentices who entered were Jake Shaw – Employer: CF King, and Mitchell Goodchild – Employer: Atkins Bricks and Blocks Ltd.

The conference also hosted the annual ‘Fastest Trowel’ competition. Limited to only five entrants, each needs to lay a wall nine metres long (22.5 blocks). They lay the first course before the competition to make sure it is level (given the ground they are laying on). The competition is 20 minutes long with a five-minute break in the middle, and at the end, five minutes to tidy off the work. It is judged by how many units are laid and then points are deducted for quality (level, plumb, joint finish). Congratulations to the 2023 Winner, Dane Mason of Jones Brick & Block Ltd.