Hohepa Smith (Ngāti Porou) has won the title of Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the year.
As well as gaining the mana of the title, he will receive a $10,000 scholarship.
Yesterday he went up against four other regional winners, and an Australian apprentice, who was invited to compete for the first time in the final.
After receiving the award last night Hohepa said he was excited to see what future career prospects winning the competition will grant him.
He says “I have always been hard working, motivated and dedicated and that’s what I credit my success to.”
According to Hohepa's whānau, his success is due to the great support he receives.
His mother, Paddy Waerehu says, “Thanks to his boss Riki Kerekere, he was the one support him all the way through.”
Riki Kerekere says, “He's got the potential to go on to be not just a great butcher, within our business, maybe somewhere else, go overseas, and he's got the potential to be a great leader, whānau, community.”
A sentiment strongly supported by a competition Judge Matt Grimes.
He says, “As an industry this is the pinnacle, so if you win the Competenz Apprentice Butcher competition, it's a stepping stone, gets you promoted within the industry.”
Butchers were judged on their practical skills during a cutting test which was followed by an exam to test their knowledge of the trade, and in another first, an additional “mystery cut” category was added.
Te Kāea has followed Hohepa through his progress in the competition and was at the national event yesterday.
Our Online News Team also spent time with Hohepa and fellow Māori competitors at the regional Upper North Island comps earlier this year which Hohepa also won.