HVAC&R Industry Apprentice of the Year

Incorporating the Wallie Askew Prize and Trophy

The aim of the competition is to introduce apprentices to IRHACE and encourage their interaction with the organisation by providing an environment for them to meet members and attend the annual HVAC&R Trade Exhibition & Industry Conference. This competition is now in its 21st year.


Wallie Askew served as President of NZIRACE from 1974 -1982 and was awarded Life Membership for his achievements during this service. The Wallie Askew Memorial Workskills Competition was established by IRHACE in 1999 on the tenth anniversary of the tragic deaths of Wallie and his wife Betty in a traffic accident. Wallie was a strong supporter of the HVAC&R industry, the Institute, and apprentice training.


“I did not set out to lead the Institute eight years ago with any thought of reward or personal aggrandisement. I saw that leadership was required. I felt I might have something to offer.”

 Wallie Askew, p.7 Thermonews, April/May 1982


Any 3rd or 4th-year apprentice who has successfully completed their third-year block course or a recently completed apprentice may enter.




Entrants may only participate in the competition once.

Entrants must compete at a regional competition to be eligible for the competition final.

Regional competitions will have at least two competitors if only one entrant is eligible for the region they can be enrolled in the neighbouring region to meet finalist requirements.

The top competitors from across the country are entered into the finals. A competitor may win for their region but unless ranked in the final top, will not compete at the finals.

Where not all regions are able to send a finalist to the National Competition the vacancy may be filled by a top-ranking competitor.

A top ranking competitor will have achieved a 70% average in the regional competition.


Auckland/Northland Wellington
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Canterbury/Westland
Hawkes Bay/Poverty Bay Nelson/Marlborough
Manawatu Otago/Southland

The ongoing support from Branch Committees and IRHACE members is why IRHACE can offer regional competitions

Regional Competition Requirements

Entrants must bring their own tools - a list will be provided

Working materials will be supplied.

Entrants will undertake four tasks over a three-hour timeframe. Three tasks are practical and one is theory.

Travel to and from the competition location is the responsibility of the entrant. Refreshments during the competition will be provided.

National Competition Requirements

Finalists must bring their own tools - a list will be provided

Working materials will be supplied.

Entrants will be given a brief to follow and will have two working days to complete it.

Travel to and from the competition and accommodation during the competition is sponsored by IRHACE.

Competitors are encouraged to attend the IRHACE AGM & Conference functions as all finalists receive a one-year membership and conference registration as part of their overall prize.


Thank you to the many sponsors that continue to support this initiative donating prizes both regionally and nationally.

A special thank you to Realcold who are pivotal in the success of this competition as they continue to donate the main prize, manpower to assist at the competition and tools.