National | Building Blocks

Ngāti Rangitihi uri builds houses for low-income families

Following in the footsteps of his father and brothers is what encouraged Ngāti Rangitihi descendant Cameron Hunia to take up a career in the building industry. WelTec and Kāinga Ora - Homes and Communities signed a housing supply agreement in December last year in which new homes built by Weltec students will be given to struggling families in need of a new home.

Hunia had this to say about the importance of becoming a qualified builder, "It means a lot my brother is a builder so is my younger brother, my old man use to do it as well. So it means a lot trying to learn it and yeah I need more skills to get a better job."

Success doesn't come without its challenges. In terms of theory Hunia has had to go back to the basics.

Hunia also says, "Math, I had to relearn basic math again. Learning stuff I hadn't learnt since I was like fifteen.”

Head of School Construction and Engineering at WelTec Neil McDonald says, the Weltec and Kāinga Ora housing supply agreement will provide fit for trade training for students and 11 homes each year gifted to families in need.

McDonald comments on the importance of this community initiative and says, "We wanted to be more involved in the community and we thought it would be better to tie up with a community benefit if we could and Housing New Zealand seemed to be the obvious choice."

Simon Frank is the Pasifika Carpentry Tutor, whose main role is to introduce students to the building industry.

Frank had this to say, "The biggest challenge for me and them is trying to adapt to the industry itself."

Carpentry Cadet Co-ordinator Arnold Lomax finds employment for students after completing the programme. He says the demand for qualified builders is at an all time high.

"You could be Earning anywhere between 80 to 100 thousand a year once you’re qualified and if you’re good enough.”

Hunia says in closing, "Hopefully get a job in the trades, an apprenticeship and see where that goes."

Hunia says he one day hopes to build his own home back in his home town of Whakatane.