Building his way to the top

Press Release: 9 November 2020

Thomas O’Brien wins this year’s Registered Master Builders CARTERS 2020 Apprentice of the Year competition

RMB Carters AOY winners 2020

With carpentry apprentice numbers at an all-time high, Registered Master Builders CARTERS Apprentice of the Year national finalists have recently competed to see who will take out this year’s top apprentice title.

In the final showdown against eight of the top tradies from around the country, Thomas O’Brien has taken out this year’s Registered Master Builders 2020 Apprentice of the Year, in partnership with CARTERS national competition.

The best from New Zealand’s nine regions came together to for the final stage of the competition, involving an interview and practical challenge. The practical component challenged the apprentices to each create a mud kitchen to donate to early learning centres through Evolve Education Group.

Proudly winning the title of New Zealand’s 2020 Apprentice of the Year, Thomas O’Brien, 20 is from Northland, is employed by Beacon Construction and completing his training with BCITO.

Registered Master Builders Chief Executive, David Kelly was impressed with the group’s talent and their commitment to being the best in their field. “It is promising to see the level of skill, knowledge and dedication in this year’s apprentices. Our industry will be in safe hands with these apprentices as our future leaders. I congratulate Thomas and look forward to watching what he goes onto to achieve.”

The competition comes at a time when support of the trades and apprentices has never been more important.

Off the back of the Government’s Apprenticeship Boost, since July there has been a record jump in the number of carpentry apprentices, up by 17% compared to last year.

“Demand for skilled labour is not going away, the Trades and Apprenticeships Training Package is a fantastic incentive to ensure we have a strong future workforce - this will be vital to New Zealand’s economic recovery,” continues Kelly.

The final stage of the competition was held over two-days and involved a 45-minute interview with the judging panel, and a practical challenge held at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds.

The judges, all leading building experts said, “Thomas impressed all three judges throughout the competition. He demonstrated a broad range of skills from managing a build, relationship with clients, through to his work on the tools. His employer shows the trust he has in Thomas by giving him responsibility. This responsibility has been rightfully earned. Thomas had with him today his Grandfather’s toolbox that was made for him when he was 11. He was bought up beside a craftsman and this legacy shone through today in the practical challenge.

“Thomas is a true all-rounder and he should be very proud of himself. He will be an asset to our industry.”

Runner-up went to Mathew Van Boheman, 23, from Bay of Plenty Central Plateau, with Mark Lovelock, 27, from Upper South Island being awarded third place.

The six-hour practical challenge saw each apprentice building mud kitchens which will be donated to nine early learning centre playgrounds around Auckland next week, through the Evolve Education Group.

Evolve Education Group’s Area Manager, Nicole Butler congratulates this year’s apprentices and is looking forward to the arrival of the mud kitchens. “Mud kitchens provide a wide range of learning opportunities including creative, imaginary, sensory and explorative play. The children of the centres receiving these are very lucky and we are so grateful.”

The achievements of all nine apprentices were celebrated with the finalists and their employers, family, and friends at a gala awards dinner, hosted by The Rock’s Rog Farrelly.

Committed to standing behind all apprentices as they start their careers, CARTERS Chief Executive, Mike Guy is impressed with the talent the competition brings together year-on-year.

“We’re proud to be the long-standing Principal Partner of Master Builders Apprentice of the Year Competition, which we have sponsored for 16 years. CARTERS remain committed to supporting carpentry apprentices as they further their careers in the building and construction industry by taking part in the competition. Celebrating emerging talent in New Zealand's trade industry is a great initiative to be involved with as we continue to look to the future of the building industry.”

The Master Builders Apprentice of the Year competition is made possible thanks to principal sponsor CARTERS, the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO), and supporting sponsor Licensed Building Practitioners, as part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Find out more about Registered Master Builders CARTERS Apprentice of the Year.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Maxine Glogau

027 373 6432

About Master Builders 2020 Apprentice of the Year, in association with CARTERS

The Master Builders Apprentice of the Year, in association with CARTERS, aims to recognise excellence among carpentry apprentices and raise awareness of career opportunities in the building and construction industry. It’s a competition that looks to test several aspects of a well-rounded apprentice, not just your skills on the tools.

Thomas O’Brien has received a range of great prizes to acknowledge his win:

The use of a brand new Nissan Navara for one year, proudly provided by CARTERS.

CARTERS Business Tools Grant - $5,000 to further their career.

Master Builders 2020 Apprentice of the Year, in association with CARTERS National Finalists:

Matthew Van Bohemen, 23, from Bay of Plenty Central Plateau, employed by Beck Building and trained through BCITO

Corrigan Harnett, 23, from Central South Island, employed by Keane Building and trained through BCITO

Byron Raubenheimer, 29, from Waikato, employed by GD Pringle Building and trained through BCITO

Karl Douglas, 28 (says 27 on the player card?), from Lower North Island, employed by Makers Fabrication and trained through BCITO

Ken Rowe, 27, from Auckland, employed by Neal Mckendrick Builders and trained through BCITO

Thomas O’Brien, 20, from Northern, employed by Beacon Construction and trained through BCITO

Ben Roberts, 20, from Central North and East Coast, employed by Mike Campbell Construction and trained through BCITO

Christopher O’Connell, 25, from Southern, employed by Hammond and Campbell Builders and trained through BCITO

Mark Lovelock, 27, from Upper South Island, employed by Timbercraft Construction and trained through BCITO

About Evolve Education Group:

Evolve is a leading provider of early childhood education in New Zealand. With more than 120 early learning centres across the country, Evolve strives to be the strongest advocate for children growing up in New Zealand. Our high-quality brands include Active Explorers, Learning Adventures, Lollipops, Pascals, Little Wonders, Little Earth Montessori and Little Lights. While each of these brands has its own unique flavour, they all share the same core values and offer outstanding care and inspirational learning in vibrant centres equipped with the latest educational resources.

Evolve Education Group early childhood centres receiving the donated mud kits:

Lollipops Millenium

Active Explorers Ellerslie

Lollipops Takanini

Lollipops Pukekohe

Learning Adventures Takanini

Learning Adventures Mangere East

Lollipops Waiuku

Learning Adventures Airport Oaks

Learning Adventures Henderson

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