Māori excel in Competenz Apprentice Butcher of the Year Regional Comp - Online Exclusive

Producing the best cut is what each of the competitors aim for as they compete for the Regional Competenz title. 

But behind each sharpened knife lies individuals with very proud family members.  Hohepa Smith's family (Ngāti Porou) is a prime example of this.

Hohepa’s sister, Kahurangi Smith says, “That’s our baby in the family. He’s our youngest so he’s just doing us all proud.”

The families of the Māori competitors travelled from near and far to show support for their boys.

Another strong Māori competitor, Carlos Tuhua (Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki) has the support of his mother and partner who know all too well the skills of their favourite butcher.

Mother Trudy Tuhua says, “I feel wowed about it!  I’m glad that he’s stepped up, he’s taken on a challenge.  He’s not afraid of challenges.  He always seems to step up to the plate.  Although he says he’s kind of nervous and that, he does step up.”

Jacque Manuel’s whānau from Te Whakatōhea are familiar with his culinary skills that have helped him to carve out his career pathway.

Jacque's brother, Koree Manuel says, “Gotta hide the herbs away from him.  He likes herbs and spices and garlic.”

“Kicks everyone else out of the kitchen and that’s his area,” says cousin Donell Peka.

The pride etched on the faces of these young men’s families is evidence enough that commitment, passion and focus will get you wherever you want to go in whatever industry you choose.

After a gruelling hour of intense competition, the judges begin to score each table.

As the judges tally up their scorecards, the pressure begins to show on some of the lads' faces.

While all the Māori talent showed major skill, it was Hohepa Smith who came out on top.

With an overwhelming flood of emotion expressed on the faces of his whānau and friends, Hohepa is a step closer to winning the $10,000 scholarship up for grabs at the National competition in Auckland on September 10.