National | Education

Marae equips unemployed with beekeeping skills

Nearly twenty unemployed young men are feeling optimistic about the future having graduated with new skills from the Tapu Te Ranga Marae pilot apiarist course.

The course incorporates tikanga Māori, linking traditional knowledge with beekeeping skills.

Student Baxter Degroot says, "There's a lot of work at the moment in beekeeping.  There's a huge rush in that."

Student Zak Marlow says, "I expected I might be a factory worker somewhere, harvesting honey from some frames, but I think I'm going to be a lot more than that.  Now I've got the skills to do almost anything in the bee industry."

Funded by the Ministry of Social Development and driven with Taratahi Agriultural training, students gain NZQA apiculture level 1 and 2 qualifications.  Tapu Te Ranga provide tikanga Māori aspects through taiaha, carving, gardening and community skills.

Degroot says, "We've learnt a little about rongoā Māori, what trees we can use for medicines- and it's helped us with the mānuka, showing us how valuable mānuka is for our health."

Tapu Te Ranga general manager Dean Stewart says, "Beekeeping- it's the new gold rush really...there is also a lot of opportunity for these guys to work for themselves in the hobbyist capacity or get together and start a little business, which some of them are doing."

Eighteen graduated from the course and next year it will extend to include level 3 qualifications.

Marlow says, "At the end of level three we're all going to be qualified beekeepers, we're all going to have our certificates and be searching for AFBs (American foulbroods) so we're going to be able to diagnose disease in other beehives...we're going to learn queen rearing, splitting them, making more hives.  All in all, we're learning everything.”

In addition to the three levels of apiculture, Tapu Te Ranga will pilot a tiny house building course next year.