National | Apprenticeships

Iwi and polytech join forces for marae building apprenticeships

An Iwi trust and a polytech say they’ve devised a novel idea to tackle the shortage of skilled tradespeople and get more young Māori into mahi, by giving them real-world experience building in their rohe.

Te Āti Awa says demand for its hauora services has soared in recent years, so much so that the Iwi has outgrown its main complex in Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt, at a time when building costs have never been higher, and there are in some cases, year long waits.

That’s where Petone-based Institute of Technology WelTec stepped in, the pair devising an apprentice partnership, which has seen 22 students studying construction trades skills, helping build out infrastructure on the campus.

“Not only are projects like these a way for students to learn ‘on the job’ but they are also a way to link people back to their iwi and communities.” Te Āti Awa chief executive Wirangi Luke says.

Luke says the model stems from a 2012 project where WelTec students helped to refurbish and bring existing buildings to code.

“Even now, we get those graduates coming back with their whānau and reflect with pride how they helped their iwi with these bricks and mortar,” Luke says.

'Excited to come to work'

He says the partnership has meant advancing the previous project was a no-brainer.

“We share the Tamaiti Whāngai learner support model with them for ākonga Māori at the Petone campus. The connection is getting stronger and stronger as we work together to support our young people,”

The students working on the project are part of the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training scholarship, which is a government-funded scholarship  covering full fees and course-related costs.

The students complete their New Zealand certificate in construction trade skills (level 3) carpentry programme at the end of the year, with most moving onto their Level 4 certificate.

Henry Ma’alo, one of two WelTec tutors who have been guiding the students on site in Waiwhetu, says the real-world experience, on a project the apprentices are connected to, makes them more engaged, passionate and reliable.

“They are excited to come to work every day, they know this building is important to the community and they feel proud to be part of that.” Ma’alo says.

Professional approach

“Things like demeanour, timeliness, communication, appropriate attire, and being professional all become really important. Students know they are in the public eye and there are expectations from the iwi about the finished product.”

Elyssa Norman, part of the student cohort, says she sees the WelTec programme as a gateway into the industry.

“Working on this project with Te Āti Awa is so special because the community is here with us. When we started Te Āti Awa officially welcomed us onto the land and we shared kai," Norman says.

“After this, I definitely plan to complete my apprenticeship, then I’d like to start my own company. “

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