The nation’s top butcher and butcher apprentice have been announced this evening at one of the most anticipated events on the meat industry calendar.

Reuben Sharples from Aussie Butcher New Lynn has been named Alto Butcher of the Year and Samantha Weller from New World Rangiora took out the title of Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year.

Following three highly competitive regional competitions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, 10 finalists from each category went head to head in the Grand Final held at Shed 10 in Auckland earlier today.

Finalists in both competitions faced a practical cutting test in which they had just two hours to break down a size 20 chicken, beef sirloin and pork shoulder into a themed display of value- added products. Finalists were also presented a mystery cut, a large turkey, to breakdown within the time limit.

This year’s competition was particularly fierce, being the first year that entrants over 30 years were welcomed to enter the Alto Butcher of the Year category, allowing both butchers who are fairly new to the trade, and those with many years of experience to get involved and see how they stacked up against their peers.

Head Judge, Matt Grimes, has been involved with the competition for over 10 years and believes removing the age limit ultimately raised the bar in all areas of the competition.

“The attention to detail and focus on creativity and cookability from the butchers this year has been very impressive; applying an open age limit has inspired the younger in the competition with a level to strive towards, it allows them to see just how great a career path in butchery can be,” said Grimes.

Sharples, who took out the Alto Butcher of the Year category, said the win means so much more to him than just a personal achievement.

“I’m hugely passionate about this industry, I love what I do and it feels great to be recognised for it. I’m looking forward to the study tour and I know the experience I gain from it is going to be hugely beneficial for not only me but my staff too,” said Sharples.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Competenz Butcher Apprentice category provides an invaluable opportunity for those just starting out in the industry.

Grimes has seen the benefits first hand and it’s part of what keeps him coming back to his role as Head Judge year after year.

“Making it to the finals provides those beginning their careers with a huge sense of achievement, as well as a massive boost to their career and future employment opportunities, the networking is invaluable,” said Grimes.

Weller will now go forward to join the ANZCO Young Butchers of New Zealand, a team that is also comprised of both last year’s competition winners to represent New Zealand at the World Butcher’s Young Butcher and Apprentice Challenge competitions in 2018.

Sharples and Weller also received their winner’s prize of an International Study Tour in 2018 to Ireland, joining the New Zealand delegation travelling to support our national butchery team, the Pure South Sharp Blacks as they compete in the 2018 World Butchers’ Challenge.

Dan Klink from Mangawhai Meat Shop was named the Alto Butcher of the Year runner up and Dylan Ohlson from New World Rangiora was named Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year runner up.

The 2017 Alto Butcher finalists were:

  • Alana Empson, PAK’nSAVE Clarence St, Hamilton
  • Anthony Ross, New World Fendalton, Christchurch
  • Benjamin Henry, New World Thorndon, Wellington
  • Dan Klink, Mangawhai Meat Shop, Mangawhai
  • James Smith, PAK’nSAVE Pukekohe, Auckland
  • Justin Hinchco, Waipawa Butchery, Napier/Hastings
  • Kieran Horsefield, New World Greenmeadows, Napier/Hastings
  • Luka Young, New World Eastridge, Auckland
  • Reuben Sharples, Aussie Butcher New Lynn, Auckland
  • Riki Kerekere, Countdown Meat & Seafood, Auckland



    The 2017 Competenz Butcher Apprentice finalists were:

  • Michael Samani, New World Eastridge, Auckland
  • Andrew Cumming, New World Eastridge, Auckland
  • Bailey Marshall, Harris Meats, Cheviot
  • Ben Nelson, Aussie Butcher New Lynn, Auckland
  • Brianne Beets, New World Tokoroa, Tokoroa
  • Dylan Ohlson, New World Rangiora, Rangiora
  • Gurpreet Dhillon, PAK’nSAVE Te Awamutu, Te Awamutu
  • Patryck Edwards, PAK’nSAVE Wairau, Auckland
  • Makalah Stevens, New World Foxton, Foxton
  • Samantha Weller, New World Rangiora, Rangiora

    The competition is supported by Alto Packaging, Competenz, Wilson Hellaby, Alliance Group, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Dunninghams, Hellers, Kerry Ingredients, New Zealand Pork and Tegel.