Central South Island Apprentice of Year

Central South Island Apprentice of Year

It's business as usual for CPIT student and carpentry graduate Hamish Ward, who's back at work this week after being named the Central South Island's Registered Master Builders Carters 2015 Apprentice of the Year last Thursday in Christchurch.

Employed by Leighs Construction since March 2014, the 26 year-old finished his apprenticeship in February. He was stoked with his achievement.

"I still can't quite believe I won, but I'm back at work as usual today. The jobs don't stop because of awards."

His employer, CPIT graduate Anthony Leighs, who is also chairman of the New Zealand Master Builders ' Association, said he was pleased Ward's talents and skills had been identified in the industry.

"Awards help with confidence, and they also strengthen their CV and their position within the business, and there's plenty of opportunities for a guy like Hamish."


He said he was pleased with the calibre of apprentices that CPIT regularly turned out.

Up until the Christchurch 2011 earthquakes, Ward was a New Zealand Army Lance Corporal in the Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles, which was involved in manning the city cordon and carrying out search and rescue missions during the Canterbury's state of emergency. 

Inspired by the rebuild, he made the decision to train as a carpenter. His first major project with Leighs was a new warehouse extension to Target Furniture on Blenheim Road. Within 24 hours of finishing his apprenticeship, he was made supervisor.

"That was the project I was judged on for the awards, and I chose it because it represented two phases, the first on the tools as an apprentice, and the second as a supervisor; also because it was a tricky job, where we had to tie-in an old building with the new modern warehouse. Plus it had a curved roof, which can be pretty hard to get right." 

He has continued his study with CPIT Trades for a National Diploma in Construction Management. 

"CPIT has been great. Those good work habits I learned during my certificate in carpentry, I've carried into my apprenticeship. I've been lucky to have good tutors and supervisors." 

This, together with his spick and span army training has stood him in good stead to maintain the Leighs' motto: A tidy worksite is a happy worksite. A case in point is the new Mt Pleasant Community Centre project, where the demolished quake-damaged building is being replaced with a brand-new facility at McCormack's Bay.  This community-based project is a light-weight prefabricated timber construction on a complex concrete foundation, which all has to be "millimetre-perfect" to fit together.

"It's a really cool project to work on, to give something back to the community, and definitely a job I wanted to be involved with."

He will now proceed to compete against the winners from the other nine regions at the national competition in Auckland, October 8-9.

Each finalist will undergo a 45-minute interview with the national judging panel. They will then compete in a practical carpentry challenge where each apprentice will be tasked with building a playhouse to be donated to local charities. The practical challenge will take place at The Cloud on 9 October and will be open to the public.

The winner of the Registered Master Builders Carters 2015 Apprentice of the Year will then be announced at an awards dinner at The Cloud that evening. Ward said he was enjoying the awards journey so far.

"The awards were good because I'm judged against my peers, and it was cool to see how I stacked up. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens at the finals."