The 'art of butchery' has been carving new opportunities for young Māori apprentices competing at the Upper North Island Butcher of the Year competition over the weekend.
Ngāpuhi descendant Cherise Redden won first place in the apprentice category on Saturday.
"It was such an awesome experience, something I've never had that kind of recognition for before. All the hard work paid off,” she says.
Last year, Corey White of Ngāpuhi won the New Zealand Apprentice Butcher of the Year award, giving him the opportunity to compete internationally.
Both Redden and White have been taught by veteran butcher Riki Kerekere, who competed in the senior section today. For the past 14 years, Kerekere led an apprentice programme at Countdown.
Kerekere says all of his apprentices are from South Auckland and have come from some “really hard backgrounds”.
“My job is to mold them and mentor them and get them to a place they need to be and become good people," says the Ngāpuhi and Te Aitanga a Mahaki descendant.
Corey White and Cherise Redden. Source: File
White says Kerekere is, “the one who makes everything happen for all of us, pushes us to better, puts us in the right position, gives us all the tools we need to succeed.”
Reddin says after working with Kerekere, she’s learned that women can succeed in the profession as well.
“The guys are actually really encouraging when you work in the environment. They motivate me, so if I can do it then any other women can do it as well.”
Kerekere won the New Zealand Alto Butcher of the Year award in 2018. Whether or not he retains the title this year, he says his main focus is on his apprentices.
“I'm hoping when they see me get up, it'll encourage them to do well.”
It's been confirmed that the winner of the Alto Butcher of the Year, Upper North Island regional competition today, was Dan Klink from Mangawhai Meat Shop. Klink will advance to the nationals in August.
Competitors at nationals will fight for the chance to join the 'Sharp Blacks' and represent Aotearoa at an international competition in Sacramento, California next year.