The search for New Zealand’s best butcher.

The Alto Butcher of the Year has been running in various forms for three decades and has always been a prestigious event well regarded by the retail meat trade. Formally the ‘Young Butcher’ competition, in 2017 we dropped the 'young' part and since then the competition has been open to any butcher, of any age. In doing this we are paving the way for more butchers to show us their talents and the title is highly sought after by the competitors. If you are aiming to be a Sharp Black, this is the competition to enter to get recognised by industry. Competing alone is a huge achievement, not to mention an incredible opportunity to open the door for future opportunities.

The competition runs alongside the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year and both begin with regional competitions which consist of a practical cutting test. From here, winners are selected to progress through to the Grand Final in Auckland, which also includes a formal awards dinner - a highlight on the industry calendar attracting over 250 guests. The Grand Prize for the winner of the Alto Butcher of the Year is not only this great feat, but also an international study tour to expand your horizons.

Entries open on Wednesday 3rd April and close on Friday 24th May. See the competition programme below for further details and if you have any further questions, please contact Michelle on 09 489 0879 or michelle@rmnz.co.nz



This year, the Alto Butcher Grand Final will see competitors given all mystery cuts five minutes before the competition begins with no compulsory elements included, leaving them to create their ultimate wish-list of value-added cuts. There will be six finalists in each category at the Grand Final. The first four will be the winners from each of the regionals. The remaining finalists will be taken from the overall top marks across the nation.

 The Alto Butcher and ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year Grand Final is staged in Auckland’s Shed 10 as part of a glitzy dinner which is a much-anticipated highlight on the industry calendar, so get your tickets and join us for the industry’s biggest event.




Four regional competitions are held in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. The winner of each Regional Competition will progress through to the Grand Final in Auckland on Thursday 8th August where they will compete against the winners from the other regionals, plus the next two highest scoring Alto Butchers from across the nation – making six finalists in the Alto Butcher of the Year Grand Final, to battle it out in Auckland.

Two hour practical cutting test & prize giving.

Regional Cutting Test:
The practical cutting test will take two hours. This time includes bench set up, preparation of ingredients and garnishes and displaying. You will be marked for: Safety, hygiene, speed & efficiency, yield & knife skills, display, product produced and cooking instructions of product. The Regional test involves chicken, beef and pork (all meat provided), cuts involve some compulsory and creative elements:

No 16 Chicken
a) Minimum of 4 creative options

Boneless Beef Rump (D-Cut)
a) Rump Steak b) Stir Fry c) Minimum of 2 creative options

Full Pork Loin (Belly On)
a) Medallion Steak b) Pork Roast c) Minimum of 2 creative options

Regional prize for the winner is $300 and a trophy. The regional winner also receives an all expenses paid trip to Auckland to compete in the Grand Final.


The Grand Final takes place in Auckland as part of a formal dinner which is a highlight on the industry calendar and where one Alto Butcher will be crowned the winner. Transport and accommodation will be provided for those in the Grand Final.

Two hour practical cutting test. This is followed by an Awards Dinner.

Grand Final Cutting Test:
The practical cutting test in the Grand Final for the Alto Butcher of the Year will consist of only mystery cuts. There will be no compulsory cuts and the finalists will have two hours to complete the practical. Competitors will find out what the mystery cuts are five minutes before the cutting test commences.

The Grand Final prize for the winner of the Alto Butcher of the Year is an all expenses paid international butchery study tour, a trophy and a knife set. At the Grand Final, we also award the Runner-Up of the Alto Butcher category with a cash prize of $1,500 and knife set. 

As an employed butcher you will need approval from your employer to take part in the competition. Please download the consent form, complete this and upload it with your online entry form.


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Winner: Riki Kerekere – Countdown Meat & Seafood, Auckland
Runner-Up: Simon Dixon – Island Bay Butchery, Wellington

The Alto Butcher of the year Grand Final was hotly contested, with a number of pre-competition favourites scoring well,  but Riki Kerekere from Countdown Meat & Seafood did enough to impress the judges and take out the prestigious Alto Butcher of the Year title. Riki Kerekere oversees the butchery operation at Countdown’s central processing plant in Otahuhu, Auckland. Upon winning the award the typically humble Riki took a moment to thank his friends and whanau. 

“There are so many people I want to thank. It’s not easy to get yourself organised and do all the work for this. You need good people to help you and I’d like to thank all my extended whanau at Countdown who have got me here.”

The competitors were required to show their cutting skills in a two-hour test of skills, nerve and expertise. During this they were expected to break down a size 16 chicken, a boneless beef rump, a full pork loin and a forequarter of lamb – a mystery cut that competitors were only told about at the start of the competition – into a themed display of value-added products. Simon Dixon from Island Bay Butchery, Wellington was named the Alto Butcher of the Year runner-up and also took home the Bruce Wing Memorial Trophy on the night. 


2018 finalists (alphabetical by surname)

Simon Dixon – Island Bay Butchery, Wellington
Brad Gillespie – New World Rototuna, Hamilton
Justin Hinchco – Waipawa Butchery
Riki Kerekere – Countdown Meat & Seafood, Auckland – Upper North Island Regional Winner & Grand Final Winner
Aaron Pohatu – New World Greenmeadows, Napier – Lower North Island Regional Winner
Sean Reynolds – New World Eastridge, Auckland
Brent Rudolph – PAK’nSAVE Clarence Street, Hamilton
James Smith – PAK’nSAVE Pukekohe, Auckland – Upper North Island Regional Winner
Samantha Weller – New World Rangiora
Luka Young – New World Eastridge, Auckland

past winners: Alto Butcher of the year

2018: Riki Kerekere – Countdown Meat & Seafood, Auckland
2017: Reuben Sharples – Aussie Butcher New Lynn, Auckland

past winners: Alto Young Butcher of the year

2016: Amy Jones – New World Taumarunui
2015: Alana Empson – New World Hillcrest, Hamilton
2014: Timmy Watson – Allenton Meat Centre, Ashburton
2013: Abigail Lane – PAK'nSAVE Kaitaia
2012: Peter Taupawa – New World Victoria Park, Auckland
2011: Alesha Ross – Nosh Matakana
2010: Calum Sutherland – New World West End, Rotorua

2009: Wade Flavell – The Mad Butcher, Auckland
2008: Cameron Webb – Progressive Foodmore, Auckland
2007: Scott Reid – New World Gate Pa, Tauranga
2006: Michelle Tauta – Countdown Eastgate, Christchurch
2005: Calum Sutherland – The Mad Butcher, Rotorua
2004: Paul Archbold – Halswell Butchery, Christchurch
2003: Richard Sanders – Huapai Country Butchers, Auckland
2002: Nick Thompson – Woolworths Bush Inn, Christchurch
2001: Jeffrey Wright – Big Fresh, Christchurch
2000: Craig Hatton – New World Temuka
1999: Blake Cole – New World West End, Rotorua
1998: Jeremy Joyce – Price Chopper, Whakatane
1997: Davud Smith – Countdown Tokoroa
1996: Karl Pamplin – New World Remuera, Auckland
1995: Marcus Verkerk – Verkerks Ltd, Christchurch
1994: Christopher Mackie – Richmonds Ltd, Hastings
1993: John Tautau – Cracroft Butchery, Christchurch