MPTT helps Māori and Pasifika become leaders in the trades industry. As well as paying your course fees, we’ll give you one-on-one mentoring to grow your career, and help you find work in your chosen trade.
If you’re Māori or Pasifika and aged 16-40, you could qualify for our scholarships. Let us know you’re interested by filling out this form, and we’ll be in touch.
Women in Trades Press Release, 10 July 2019 – We are very excited to announce the winner of 2019’s Mitre 10 Trade Keynote Award is Flora Rivers of Johnstone Construction.
It was a difficult decision as the three finalists were all of a high calibre. A huge thank you to the other finalists, Kellie Hinton and Jahna Stephens, for sharing their inspiring journeys with us and we wish them the very best of luck in their careers. The judges were inspired by these amazing wahine and were honoured to read their stories. .
Flora’s application wowed the judges with her great attitude to life as a woman working in a non-traditional industry and her inspiring goals for the future.
It was noted that Flora’s sense of humour must help her out when things get challenging, one of her responses to what she enjoys about her job is;
“Having the ability to motivate even the laziest lad on site because they don’t like being shown up by a girl. I love hard work that may literally involve getting my hands and clothes dirty and that should be okay. ”
Flora undertook her Level 3 Carpentry qualification at Unitec and was part of the Maori and Pacifica Trades Training Scholarship programme. She loved her time learning the basics as a pre-trader and even attended last year’s Women in Trades event in Auckland where she met her future employer!
Flora is currently working on her Level 4 Carpentry qualification through BCITO as she learns the hands-on aspects of the construction world in her role as an Apprentice Carpenter at Johnstone Construction. Managing Director, Hugh Johnstone, is proud of how quickly Flora has settled into life on the tools and become an invaluable member of the JCL team;
“We searched for 3 years to find a woman to take on an apprenticeship with us and the wait was worth it. Flora has proven that jobs really do have no gender as she has taken her role and run with it, she is always looking for ways to challenge and extend herself. We are so proud that she now has the opportunity to inspire other women to consider a career in trades.”
Flora is not just working toward her carpentry qualification but is also undertaking papers in Construction Management and Engineering, all to help her toward her long-term goal of working on construction projects in the Pacific for the UNDP.
She was described by the judges as;
“…being one to watch, a role model in many aspects of her life and someone who is very grounded but has worked hard and deserves recognition!”
Flora will now work with Speechmarks to craft and develop her speech and public speaking skills so that she can deliver the keynote address at our upcoming event in Auckland.
A big thank you to our wonderful judges:
· Daimler Teves, Trade Marketing Manager at Mitre 10 Trade
· Diana Thomson, Public Speaking Coach at Speechmarks
· Pip Buunk, 2018 Winner of the Mitre 10 Trade Keynote Award and Driller at Fulton Hogan
· Riripeti Reedy, Senior Advisor at Ministry for Women
They came to the trades from different backgrounds: high school, office work and ambulance driving. But these three tauira (trainees) have one thing in common – a burning ambition to succeed. Find out why Christine, Marvin and Autalavou are learning a trade, what their goals are and how MPTT’s helping them get there.
“It’s a lifelong skill that I can take with me forever.”
Samoan, from the village of Palauli, Vailoa.
Studying: New Zealand Certificate in Electrical Engineering Theory (Level 3) at Manukau Institute of Technology
What attracted you to a career in the trades?
I initially wanted to do carpentry because I was interested in architecture and I thought carpentry was close to that. At the time, I was working in sales at Mercury when this Connexis ad about women in trades popped up on our intranet. It showed something about electrical engineering and I thought that looked interesting. Then it was a toss-up between carpentry and electrical, and I think working at Mercury made me go to the electrical side. I resigned to go and study.
My background is in office work, so I’ve done a lot of non-physical work. But I had no experience at all in electrical work. I was so green when I came into it, and now my hands hurt from stripping cable! So it’s totally new to me.
What are your goals?
I’m going to start looking for an apprenticeship soon, for when I finish my course in November. I don’t want to leave it too late. I want to get my tools and everything first and put my CV into some places around about July. I’m excited about doing practical stuff every day because, right now, it’s a lot of theory.
I definitely want to get qualified as soon as possible. I’ll stay and work in New Zealand for a bit and maybe possibly go to Australia – that might be my 10-year plan.
How has the MPTT programme helped you?
My MPPT navigator is Travis Fenton. He’s already helped me with doing a one-page CV. Coming from office work, my CV was a lot longer, so he’s helped me shorten it for what a company is looking for. And he’s also helped with my work profile, which goes to Skills and any possible employers. Having that one-on-one mentoring with him is so helpful.
“There’ll be plenty of work and the pay’s good.”
Māori (Ngāpuhi) and Niuean
Studying: New Zealand Certificate in Plumbing, Gasfitting and Drainlaying (Level 3) at Unitec
What attracted you to a career in the trades?
I’ve always enjoyed doing hands-on things. I don’t really like just sitting down in the office all day, you know? Also, my dad’s a builder. He told me to do a trade but to do something different to him, because if you have three builders in the house and there’s not much work, then no one’s getting any money. I know there’s a shortage of workers in New Zealand. So there’ll be plenty of work and the pay’s good once you get qualified.
What are your goals?
I want to do an apprenticeship. I’d also like to own my own business one day but I’m not too worried about that now, because that’ll be 10 years away. I’m just taking it slowly, going one step at a time. Having my own business will be good because I can get more Māori and Pasifika into work. I want to help them out. I reckon that would help all of us out a lot.
How has the MPTT programme helped you?
The scholarship has been really helpful and Tu (MPTT Navigator Tu Nu’uali’itia) has been good too. He’s helped me out when I’ve needed it. I’ve always sort of known what direction I’m going in but I know other people might be a bit lost, and having the MPTT navigator there is handy for them.
“I want to go all the way in this career path – I’m all in.”
Samoan, from the village of Faletagaloa Safune, Savai’i
Studying: New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills – Carpentry (Level 3) at Unitec
What attracted you to a career in the trades?
I’d already worked in carpentry in Niue for five years before moving to New Zealand earlier this year. The builder I was working with, Julio Atoa Talagi, was a graduate at Unitec who returned to Niue passionate to share his skills with the youth. I want to be exactly like Julio: graduate, get certified, live a little and then start my business.
So, I ended up applying to Unitec and here I am! Back at home (in Niue), I was building residential and I reckon that, right now while studying, I am learning the theory behind the practical work I’ve done.
I love building. It’s a passion for me. It’s amazing what you look at after you’ve built a house. I used to work as an ambulance officer in Niue for five years. It was amazing to help people but I felt I was meant to be doing more. So, I did building part time and I found out that the difference between these two professions is that you can never build a human body out of materials or bring someone back when they have passed on but you can always build a house and can always mend your house when it’s broken. That was enough for me to choose carpentry!
What are your goals?
To establish my own building business. I know what I have to do. That is why I really want to do well in building. I’m going to get an apprenticeship as soon as I finish the course and I will be a certified builder. After I become a certified builder, I will get established. I want to go all the way in this career path – I’m all in.
How has the MPTT programme helped you?
Financially, it has helped my family and I a lot. I am grateful! I am also grateful that I’m able to learn and I don’t have anything to worry about later after I’ve completed my studies.
I heard about the scholarship when I got to New Zealand. There was word going around that there’s a scholarship for Māori and Pasifika students, and Tu (MPTT Navigator Tu Nu’uali’itia) explained it to me, so I went ahead and applied for it. I’m grateful for the programme. I reckon it’s a good thing.
Tu’s always following up with our school work, talking to us every day we come to school and pushing us through. He’s really good – he’s always checking up on us, not only for school but also our stuff at home. I know he keeps us accountable.
It’s easy to spend everything you earn. But if you want to have enough money for those big goals, like buying a house, you need financial skills to get ahead.
A group of NZMA students, including MPTT Auckland trainees, went along to a financial literacy course called ‘Trade up your finances’ this month. Created by Sorted and run by Issac Liava’a, National Manager Pacific at Skills, the free weekly workshops covered all the tools trainees need to get on top of their money and plan for the future.
Budgeting might sound complicated, but it’s easier than you might think.
The main thing is to know how much money is coming in (your wages), and how much you need to spend. That way, you can make sure there’s enough money for everything you need.
The trick is to work out the difference between what you want and what you need. ‘Needs’ are things you must have to live, like food, power, rent, or a car to get you to work.
‘Wants’ are things you could live without. For example, you might want a new T-shirt. But if you already have enough clothes, it’s not really something you need to spend money on right now – it’s just something you want. So, to get ahead financially, you could save money and wear the clothes you already have.
For 17-year-old carpentry trainee Jackline Lovo, the financial literacy course taught her how to save money for the future by spending less on her wants.
“It’s hard because I just want to be a normal teenager and spend all my money on partying and clothes and going out with friends. But I know one day, it’ll all be worth it if I save money now.
“One thing I do is leave my wallet at home when I go out, so I can’t spend more than I’d planned to spend.”
‘I want to make something of my life’
After dropping out of school at age 16, Jackline Lovo was packing broccolli and potatoes before she decided to learn a trade. “I realised the pay wasn’t good enough. I needed to earn more than minimum wage.”
She chose to learn construction at NZMA for the career options it will give her. “Especially in Auckland, it’s a good job and there’s a lot of opportunities. I want to work my way up and start a business of my own.”
The financial literacy course has inspired her to save money and get her finances sorted. “Coming here, I realised I didn’t know much about money. At the moment I stay with my mum, so I don’t have all the responsibilities of paying bills. So it’s good to do this course now so I’ll know what to do later on.”
2. Prepare for when things go wrong
Sometimes, things happen that you didn’t see coming. For example, your car could break down or you might lose your job.
To make sure those unexpected expenses don’t wipe out your savings or get you into debt, you need an emergency fund. This is money you’ve set aside to use when something big goes wrong. That way, you can sleep easy knowing you’re prepared.
Kamilo Joe Kaitapu, 19, says he’s now started an emergency fund as a result of taking the financial literacy course.
“I was already pretty good with my money. But I hadn’t thought about opening up an emergency savings account. I knew about saving money, but having emergency savings as well sounds more realistic.”
How much do you need in your emergency fund? Anything is better than nothing. So to start with, just make sure you put some money aside every time you get paid.
As a guide, you can work up to having enough to cover your basic expenses (like your rent or mortgage, food, power and water bill) for three months.
‘Carpentry gives me a secure future’
After leaving school at 16, Kamilo Joe Kaitapu started working in the trades. “I was working with my old man in construction, doing hard labour like being a hammerhand. It was good because I gained a mix of experience.”
To build his skills further and learn about customer service, he took a part-time job doing security at events. At the same time, he started studying construction at NZMA and was glad to have the chance to learn more about money at the financial literacy course. “I was already pretty good with my money, but it’s good to learn more. In my family, we struggled a lot with money and Auckland is expensive, so I try to provide for them as much as I can.” Besides becoming a certified tradie, Kamilo’s future goals include travelling to the USA and saving a house deposit.
3. Organise your bank accounts
If you keep all your money in one bank account, it’s hard to keep track of what you’ve saved and how much you’re spending. So, it’s a good idea to set up a few different bank accounts to organise your money. You can do this for free through online banking.
The accounts you’ll need depend on your goals and situation, but here are some examples:
Spending account – money for everyday spending and bills
Savings account – this could be general savings for the future, or money you’re saving for a particular goal, like a house deposit
Emergency fund – money you use only if there’s an emergency
Car – money for maintaining your car, like getting your registration and warrant of fitness
Carpentry trainee Tevita Latu, 19, says having his savings in a separate account helps him avoid spending it.
“Sometimes when things come up, I think about using my savings. But I have to choose not to use it.”
For Jackline, saving has now become a family effort. With four siblings in Auckland, she has started to teach them what she’s learned about money.
“Since starting this course, I’ve opened a savings account for my whole family, to help them save as well. They give me the money and I keep track of what everyone’s put in. I tell them, you need to own something that you can pass onto the next generation.”
‘You have to choose not to spend what you save’
Growing up in Tonga, Tevita Latu used to watch his uncle build houses. “I thought it was easy. But I found out you need to know how to do maths and be good at communication. It’s actually pretty hard, eh.” After taking the financial literacy course, Tevita is focused on spending on his needs rather than his wants. “I chose to do the course because at home mum and dad always struggled with money and paying the bills.” A priority for Tevita is helping his family out with money. “When it comes to helping my little brother, if he asks for money for school, I always give him some money.”
4. Know your goals
To stay motivated to save, you need to know what you’re saving for. That’s where goals come in.
For example, a big goal for most trainees in the financial literacy course was to buy a house.
“In my family, we’ve always rented, but my dad’s parents had their own house,” says Kamilo. “For me growing up, my grandparents’ house was a really nice place to be and that’s where I have good memories. That’s how I want my own family to feel about my house.”
Trainees learned how to make their goals ‘SMART’:
Specific – This is about knowing exactly what you want to achieve. For example, instead of just saying you want to buy a house, you should specify the area where you want to buy that house.
Measurable – You should be able to know exactly when you’ve reached your goal. In the case of buying a house, you’ll know it’s yours when you’ve got the keys in your hand.
Achievable – You need to make sure your goal is possible to achieve. For example, buying a three-bedroom house in Onehunga might be achievable for your first home, but buying a brand-new mansion with a pool in the middle of Auckland isn’t doable for most people.
Realistic – This means the goal is within reach, given your situation. For example, if you’re currently studying and working part time, the amount you can realistically save for a house deposit is probably going to be lower than when you’re qualified and working full time.
Timely – This is where you set a clear timeline to reach your goal. For example, you might want to save your house deposit within the next five years.
By getting clear on exactly what you want and how and when you’ll achieve it, you’re much more likely to put in the effort that’s needed to reach your goal.
So use these tips to make the most of your money and build a great financial future. And if you need help or have a question, remember your MPTT Navigator is here to help you.
After more than 47 years in the trades industry, Mark Katterns has some advice for new trainees. Get help from a mentor, show up to work on time – and live with your mum. Find out how the project director at Hawkins climbed the career ladder in his trade, and how you can do it too.
Mark Katterns believes it’s important to dream big. It’s not about just getting a job – it’s about becoming a leader in your industry.
But how? He says the keys are to commit to your mahi and find someone to look up to who can show you the way forward.
“Don’t do what I did and get into a flat with the boys, ‘cos you’ll end up getting into trouble,” he jokes. “You should stay at home with your mum. Live there for as long as possible.”
On a more serious note, Mark (Nga Puhi, Ngati Kawa) says Māori and Pasifika are often natural leaders but trainees need a mentor, like the MPTT navigators, who can guide them towards those leadership roles.
“When Māori and Pasifika get confident in what we do, you can’t stop us. That’s why we were chiefs. We’re a people of leaders.”
Leading the way
Mark, who now directs and manages large projects for construction giant Hawkins, credits his mum as being his first mentor.
As a young teenager growing up in Waitangi, his only career plans were to follow in the footsteps of most people he knew.
“I thought I’d work at the freezing works in Moerewa in the Far North, or end up working in forestry with my uncles and cousins.”
In the meantime, Mark had fallen in with a wayward crowd and was getting up to mischief. But when he turned 15, his mum intervened. She put him on a bus to Auckland to learn a trade through the Māori Affairs Trade Training scheme, in which the MPTT programme has its roots.
“Having a role model is so important. I was the oldest son and my mum saw something in me, so she was my mentor to start with. It’s important to have someone to look up to, because they will show you the way.”
Mentors, such as MPTT’s navigators, help trainees get more confident with finding a job and can show them the way forward when they’re not sure what to do next, says Mark.
“When Māori and Pasifika go for our first job interview, we tend to be a bit whakamā (ashamed or embarrassed). But a mentor will help you through that process and speak up for you. They’ll help you get to that next level when you’re not sure how to move forward.
“We want every MPTT trainee to be a leader and be confident enough to be out there inspiring other youngsters one day.”
Just in time
Once he got started in the construction industry, Mark found other mentors along the way.
One of those people was Gil Davies, who worked as a project manager at Hawkins. He taught Mark another important key to success – showing up to work on time.
“He used to come around in the morning and wake us up for work. He’d pull us out of bed and take us to the job site because he believed in us. I hooked onto this guy because he could see what I was about. Trainees who commit to showing up to work on time will stand out and be noticed by the leaders,” says Mark.
“To succeed, you need the work ethic. If you’re not on that waka then you might as well not come. You’ve got to be there ready to work at 7am and not looking to finish work early – we leave at 4:30pm, no sooner.”
At age 19, Mark joined Hawkins as a carpenter and began to work his way up.
Marriage and starting a family added to his motivation to succeed, and the company soon recognised his hard work and supported him to take on site management roles.
He has since been involved in projects such as the award-winning Auckland Art Gallery, the Auckland War Memorial Museum atrium, and the $109 million redevelopment of Middlemore Hospital.
But even as a project director who isn’t ‘on the tools’, Mark prefers being on site to working at a computer.
“I love my job because I still get to have that contact with the tradies. Being on site is like being on a marae because it’s a big collection of people – a team working together to build something.”
Mark says what drives him now is a passion to be a mentor for the current generation of Māori and Pasifika tradies.
He helped spearhead a mentoring programme for Māori and Pasifika at Hawkins, which provides opportunities for career development and learning new skills.
“Once you’re hooked into a trade, we get you a mentor. That’s what I needed when I was young. At Hawkins, we call those mentors ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’.”
So far, Hawkins has taken on 78 Māori and Pasifika trainees. Of those, 45% are from the MPTT programme and 17% are women – a relatively high percentage in the traditionally male-dominated industry.
For Mark, the mentoring programme is a way to give back and pass on some of the opportunities he received when he got started in the trades.
“I didn’t get here because of myself,” says Mark. “If I didn’t have a mentor, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Most people want to be in demand in their career – but how do you get there? Mechanical engineering apprentice Toni Rhind is sure to be sought after once she’s certified, says her boss Eddie Green. But that doesn’t mean the road was easy. In fact, Toni tried several careers before finding the right fit, and had to make the tough call to leave a good job in order to get an apprenticeship.
Apprentice and young mum Toni Rhind will be “fighting off job offers” once she’s certified, reckons her boss.
Eddie Green, who oversees Toni’s work at Pacific Steel in Auckland, was impressed with Toni’s work ethic and motivation from the start.
“Toni’s a role model. Her schoolwork and block course is always up to date. She adds a lot of value to our business and she’s always been outstanding. If she wants help, she’ll put her hand up. Toni is definitely delivering all the time.”
He says Toni will be in high demand when she’s finished her apprenticeship.
“She’s going to have a lot of choices. Whether we hang on to her or not will remain to be seen, but she won’t have to worry about finding somewhere to work.”
Around a year ago, Pacific Steel was looking for a female apprentice to join its mostly male team. But with mechanical engineering traditionally being a male-dominated field, Eddie had difficulty finding the right person.
“We’ve got a big diversity plan, and at that time I was tasked with finding us a female apprentice. But there was hardly anyone around,” says Eddie, who is maintenance superintendent at Pacific Steel’s wire mill and manages the company’s apprenticeship training scheme.
Eventually, Eddie found Toni through Competenz – a partner of MPTT – after she’d approached them looking for an apprenticeship.
“As soon as I met her and talked to her, I knew she was exactly what we’re looking for,” says Eddie. “To be honest, I couldn’t hire her quick enough – I just had to get her on board. And it’s worked out really well.
“She absolutely fit what we were looking for, not just with getting a woman into the trades, but also because of her motivation and her skillset.”
Engineering her success
After having her son at age 16, Toni began looking for a career. But it took a while to find the right fit.
She did the first year of a nursing degree, then switched to sports massage for a few years. She then became a personal trainer and fitness instructor but although it paid the bills, she knew it wasn’t what she wanted to do long-term.
Inspired by her handyman grandfather, Toni decided to look into mechanical engineering.
“I was already quite good with my hands and I liked having a go at fixing things. I knew I couldn’t work in an office.”
Toni (Ngāpuhi and Tainui) also qualified for an MPTT scholarship that offered financial and practical support.
MPTT trainees like Toni get more than just free course fees. They also get one-on-one mentoring and career advice, as well as help finding work and getting an apprenticeship.
Toni, 26, says this ongoing support was a major reason she chose to join the MPTT programme.
“I’ve noticed a lot of people that go through the pre-trades haven’t had much support going forward with their career. And something I felt really helped me is that I had very strong support from MPTT.”
Toni’s relationship with MPTT started when she was looking at learning a trade. It was then that she met Naomi Tito, MPTT relationship manager at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT).
“When I was looking into my course, Naomi told me about MPTT. She was very friendly and helpful, and gave me a lot of information about what support I could get and where I could continue training after I’d finished at MIT.”
Toni found her first mechanical engineering job while still doing her pre-trades course at MIT.
With her sights set on getting certified, she asked her boss for an apprenticeship, but eventually had to look at other options.
“I had a job and I thought it would lead to an apprenticeship. But once I’d finished my pre-trades course, it didn’t really look like my boss was going to be able to offer me an apprenticeship. So I found an apprenticeship with another company.”
That company was Pacific Steel. Eddie says he was impressed by Toni’s drive to get certified, particularly because apprentices temporarily get paid less than other employees until they are qualified.
“To walk away from a pretty well-paying job and to take that leap, that couldn’t be easy,” says Eddie. “I did speak to her about the money and how she’d make ends meet but she had a real plan and it was a good plan. I liked how motivated she was and how keen she was to do it.”
Now a year into her three-year apprenticeship, Toni is loving her work.
“I enjoy being challenged all the time. When I go to work, there’s always something different to do each day. My job is to help maintain the machinery at Pacific Steel, like fixing breakdowns to get the production line going again. We do quite a bit of welding and fixing broken equipment.”
For Toni, changing careers was a way to open up her career options and give her more choices in life.
“It was about career opportunity. My long-term goal is to become a contractor. I’d like to be my own boss so I can choose my hours and what jobs I work on. Once I finish my apprenticeship, I’ll be looking to get more experience before eventually going out on my own.”
Formula for success
Many parents find it challenging to juggle work and family life. But for Toni, what made it possible was having the support of her whānau.
“I’ve got both my parents around to support me, and my sisters. So it was only when my son was sick or he had a school trip on that I’d try and take some time off work.”
Having support at work is also important to Toni, and she’s found her team at Pacific Steel provides this.
“I work with a supervisor and a number of workers, so there’s always support there. There’s always someone to talk to if you have any problems in the workplace.”
Although mechanical engineering is still a male-dominated field, Toni hasn’t come across difficulties as a woman in this trade.
“Where I’m working, they treat women just like they treat the men. I think sometimes men underestimate women’s ability to do physical jobs, but actually women can do all of those physical things too.”
Eddie is passionate about encouraging women to succeed in the trades, and says some lingering stereotypes are the only problem.
“I’ve been in engineering for around 39 years now, and what I find hard is people who have a job that needs doing and automatically go to one of the males. But why not stop and think and give that job to one of the women? Toni is equally as capable as any of the men we’ve got here now or have ever had.”
Toni encourages other women who are interested in the trades to follow their dreams, and to take advantage of all the help they can get from others along the way.
“Give it a go, and don’t be intimidated because you’ll have a lot of support behind you.”
At Māori and Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT) Auckland, our trainees don’t just get jobs — we help them become qualified tradespeople. As recently-qualified electrician Cruise Tito knows, completing your apprenticeship is well worth the hard work to get there. Here’s the story of how Cruise has set himself up for a lasting and rewarding career.
When Cruise Tito finished his apprenticeship in November last year, he was thrilled to celebrate the years of hard work he put into his qualification.
“Being the first of my siblings to get qualified, it was a big deal. We all went out to dinner to celebrate,” says Cruise.
The 22-year-old was part of MPTT Auckland’s first group of trainees back in 2015. Having now completed an apprenticeship through Skills and electrical contracting company Team Cabling, Cruise is officially an electrician.
When Cruise finished high school, he knew he wanted to get a job that was hands-on, so it made sense to learn a trade.
“I like electronics and was motivated to get a good-paying job, so I decided to become an electrician.”
He completed a pre-trades course in electrical at Manukau Institute of Technology in 2015, with his fees paid for by the MPTT scholarship.
He was also coached by his MPTT navigator, to help ensure he knew what employers were looking for as he prepared for life on the job.
Sparking a legacy
MPTT Auckland has its roots in the Māori Affairs Trade Training Scheme, which saw thousands of Māori gain trade qualifications between 1959 and the mid-1980s.
This created a generation of Māori leaders in the trades — a legacy that MPTT is working to continue by supporting people like Cruise right through their training.
As one of the first trainees to join the MPTT programme, Cruise (Ngāpuhi, Ngai Ta Manuhiri, Ngāti Whātua) is grateful for the help it has offered him throughout his journey to getting qualified.
“The scholarship was a massive help financially. MPTT also encouraged and supported us to do better, like helping us set five-year goals.”
“MPTT is like a family. It was really nice being part of a group of people that met up regularly. My navigator Awhina helped me out with my CV and I also attended a financial support workshop through Skills, which helped me and my household improve our budgeting.”
The first goal on Cruise’s list after finishing his pre-trades course was getting an apprenticeship.
He found this opportunity at Coll Electrical, where he worked for about three years. Cruise was able to work nationally and was sub-contracted to work in Wellington for six months.
“It was the first time I had moved out of home and I was able to work on my first commercial project end-to-end.”
Returning to Auckland, Cruise realised he needed more varied experience to get the career he wanted.
“We were mainly working on civil projects, and I wanted to move more towards commercial. So I decided to look for other opportunities and was able to get a job at Team Cabling.”
With help from his apprenticeship provider Skills, Cruise was able to carry his apprenticeship over to his new job.
Switched on to the trades
From the beginning, Cruise has loved that the electrical trade lets him work with his hands.
“The work is awesome. There’s heaps to learn, I get to do different things every day, and it’s hands-on, practical work.”
“I knew I didn’t want a desk job – not right now anyway. I’m an active, hands-on person, so I based my career around that. I was motivated to get qualified, as I saw it was the key to more opportunities.”
The biggest challenge for Cruise on the road to becoming qualified was getting motivated to study and complete the necessary assignments.
“Exams were really hard. I found it hard to study while working full-time and playing rugby. But at the same time, I really enjoyed getting paid to learn.
“My partner motivated me a lot. Seeing her develop in her career made me determined to keep up. She helped keep me on track — she actually put the whip on me,” he laughs.
Now that he’s a qualified electrician, Cruise is grateful to have plenty of opportunities and support to grow his career. He recommends trades training to anyone who enjoys hands-on, practical work.
“Take every opportunity you can. Get paid to learn and get qualified,” says Cruise.
Tuesday, 20 November 2018, 10:05 am
Press Release: Maori and Pasifika Trades Training
Together we’ve helped more than 2300 Māori and Pasifika Aucklanders start their trades careers – but we can’t stop now. As you know there’s an urgent need for more qualified tradespeople, with a shortage of 30,000 skilled employees in New Zealand’s building and construction industry alone.
To help get the message out about our scholarships, we have created a press release supported by a social media campaign and video. We encourage you to share these with your audience and networks.
When you see someone succeeding in their career, it’s easy to assume their life has always been great. But 28-year-old engineering apprentice Sherya Hetaraka knows from personal experience that isn’t necessarily true. After losing her dad in 2015, she battled depression and had to learn how to ask for help. Find out how Sherya got through the most difficult time in her life – and worked her way into the trades.
A few years ago, Sherya Hetarata’s life looked good from the outside. She had a great job at Griffins Foods, having worked her way up from packer to second-in-command. She was managing a crew of more than 20 people – despite being one of the youngest on the team.
In reality, she was going through the hardest time of her life. Her father had passed away, meaning Sherya lost her best friend and her strongest source of support at the same time.
Although it was difficult, she eventually sought help by talking to her bosses at Griffins.
“It took me a while, but I opened up with my bosses and they were the ones who helped me into seeing a counsellor. Because I got that help and support, I didn’t need to take time off work.”
After seeking help, Sherya was diagnosed with depression and started taking antidepressants. She also had fortnightly visits with her doctor and a counsellor for nearly a year.
“I got peace of mind from the counselling,” she says.
“I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like putting my struggles onto family or friends, because I’m the one who they all come to with their problems. My dad was the only person I went to about everything. So once he had passed it got real difficult.
“But talking about it with a counsellor was a lot easier. I knew they didn’t know me at all, so I felt like they couldn’t judge me.”
Mental health challenges are common in New Zealand, with nearly half of Kiwis experiencing a mental health problem in their lifetime.
If you’re having a difficult time like Sherya was, the most important step is to ask for help.
“Talk about it. It gets easier. Focus on yourself instead of trying to make other people happy. That’s where I think I was depressed quite a bit, because I was too worried about how to fix everyone else’s problems and not my own. Talking about it helps heaps, plus doing something you enjoy.”
If you’re going through a hard time, it’s important to seek help and remember you’re not alone.
“At times it might seem hard and you might think you can’t do it,” says Sherya. “But don’t be shy to ask for help because everyone needs help sometimes.”
Choosing the trades
While Sherya was working on her mental health, she was also thinking about a career change.
“I had a good job but it wasn’t something I could see myself doing for another 10 years. I started thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in my life and how I could make my dad proud.”
Sherya, whose iwi is Te Arawa and Ngāti Kahu, took time to think the decision through and spoke to her boss about the potential career change.
“I was stuck between engineering and social work. I’ve always wanted to help others, especially kids – mainly troubled youth with very tough backgrounds. I wanted them to know that someone cares and that things aren’t always gonna be hard.
“So I sat down with my boss. His wife was a social worker so they had done a lot of youth activities, youth camps and helping out the homeless. He explained that it’s one of the hardest jobs you can have. You need a strong heart that cannot be broken so easily due to the fact you can’t get emotionally involved.
“Hearing everything he said, I knew mentally it would take a toll on me because seeing struggling kids breaks my heart.”
Sherya had dabbled in engineering at Griffins, and the support she received from engineers in her team convinced her the trades was the right path.
“A lot of the engineers helped me out and I learned how to fix my own problems on the machines. Engineering was something I thought I might enjoy doing as a job.”
“I like taking things apart and putting them back together. I’ve always been like that. The job is exactly what I used to do when I was a kid – take things apart, put them back together. Only now it’s more extreme.”
In 2017, she handed in her resignation and began studying Mechanical Engineering Level 3 at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT).
While studying engineering, Sherya discovered that trades skills are a great way to give back to the community. She joined a volunteer project organised by MPTT, where she and other trainees did some mahi for RāWiri Community House in Manurewa.
“Our project was to restore their community vege garden that was destroyed from a car driving through their fence and straight over their vege garden boxes. We weeded all the planter boxes, trimmed back all the harakeke around the community house, fixed all the planter boxes, painted the fence and replanted all the veggies.”
For Sherya, the best part was meeting the workers at the community house.
“They are amazing at what they do. These ladies do a lot of mahi for our homeless. They bathe them, feed them and care for them every week. Being a part of the project was one of the best experiences I’ve had since I started studying.”
Having finished her pre-trades course, Sherya has now been awarded a valuable three-year engineering apprenticeship at Griffins and is on her way to getting qualified.
Where to get help
If you think you need help, a good place to start is with your GP. They can assess you, help you make a plan for your treatment, and connect you with mental health professionals like a counsellor or psychologist.
Helplines mean you can kōrero with a trained person over the phone for free. You can talk about how you’re feeling, or what to do if you know someone who may need help.
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)
Want to do hands-on work outdoors and get paid well for it? As Sam Fihaki has found during his training, plumbing is one trade that fits the bill. Find out how the 18-year-old is learning valuable skills that are already proving to be in hot demand.
Sam Fihaki knew plumbing skills were in demand – but he didn’t expect to be peppered with job requests from family members before he’d even finished his training.
“It’s pretty funny when people in my family say, ‘Oh, our toilet is blocked, can you come and fix it? We’ll pay you’. But I’m not a plumber yet. I haven’t even finished my first year!”
Sam is soon to complete his pre-trades course at Unitec and has his sights set on an apprenticeship.
“I want to get some life and work experience under my belt, and I thought learning a trade would be a good way to do that.”
Taking the plunge
Plumbing might have an unglamorous reputation but, as Sam has found, the trade involves a lot more than unblocking clogged pipes.
“People think plumbing’s just working under the kitchen sink or fixing your toilet and stuff. But there’s heaps of different things involved. I really enjoy gasfitting and drainlaying.”
Part of the appeal for Sam is getting to do a variety of hands-on work every day.
“There’s a lot of physical work and you’re outdoors – it’s a cool job. And it’s a different job every day. You’re not stuck in an office. Every day’s a new day – you never know what to expect.”
Issac Liava’a from Skills, which provides plumbing apprenticeships and industry training, says plumbing involves a wide range of skills that are in demand.
“Plumbers don’t spend as much time working with toilets as people think. There’s a lot more to the job.
“Plumbers and gasfitters work with all the systems that supply water and gas or remove waste. So they need to know how pipes and drains work, understand building regulations and know how to identify different sources of water.”
Issac says plumbers have important skills that help ensure all Kiwis have clean drinking water, and that waste is taken away safely from homes.
“Unless it’s scheduled installation or maintenance, plumbing jobs are often urgent. That means plumbers tend to be in demand and can charge a good amount for their skills. Even for scheduled jobs, every task involving water, gas and waste systems is important work that needs to be done right.”
Sam says he was surprised – in a good way – to discover what he could earn once he’s qualified.
“The pay’s really good. There’s a lack of skilled people in the plumbing industry, so they’re in demand.”
“People think because plumbers deal with things like sanitary, it’s not well paid. But that’s one reason why the pay is so high – because not many people want to deal with that kind of stuff.”
Knowledge on tap
Sam, whose mother is from Rewa in Fiji and whose father is from Lau, also in Fiji, qualified for an MPTT scholarship to pay for his fees and provide ongoing coaching.
He is due to finish his pre-trades course in August and is enjoying the projects he’s working on.
“We’ve been doing a lot of practical work lately. At the moment we’re working on a hot water cylinder assignment, which is a pretty big job.”
Being one of the youngest in his course, Sam often asks for advice and insights from more experienced trainees.
“Some of the older guys have done plumbing before. So we ask them questions about what it’s like in the industry and what the work hours and pay are like – just trying to get our head around the fundamentals of the job.”
When Sam finishes his course next month, he hopes to move into paid work as soon as possible. To start with, he’s been asking his contacts if they know anyone who’s looking for an employee.
“I know a guy who knows a lot of plumbers, and some of them have asked him if he knows anyone – so he’s recommending me to them.”
Further down the track, with more life and work experience in his toolbelt, Sam would like to join the police force.
“Ever since I was little I’ve had this thing where I wanted to help out the community. I’ve had a lot of support to do it – like my dad’s brother’s a cop, my best friend’s dad’s a cop, my mum’s best friend’s husband’s a cop. There’s quite a lot of people who’ve said I’d make a good cop.”
But for now, he’s focused on finishing his training and fine-tuning his plumbing skills.
Thinking of training to be a plumber and gasfitter? Find out more here.
What you can learn from Sam
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and help. When Sam meets someone with plumbing experience, he asks them what the industry is like. He’s also asking his contacts to help him find work after his pre-trade course. Remember, most people enjoy giving advice and will be happy to help. Don’t know any tradespeople yet? Start by asking your MPTT navigator whether they know of any jobs that might be right for you.
Tradespeople do a lot of great work, but it’s not every day they get national recognition for their skills. After delaying his building career for years to be a stay-at-home dad, former MPTT trainee Robert Piutau was stoked – and a little surprised – to win second place in the New Zealand Certified Builders Apprenticeship Challenge this month.
Find out more about Robert’s journey into the trades and how he earned his impressive placing at the awards.
When Robert Piutau found out he’d won second place in a national building competition, it took a few moments for the good news to sink in. “I was at the awards dinner and I heard my name and saw it on the screen – but it didn’t hit me straight away. Then someone behind me said ‘Hey, that’s you’. I think I was in shock that I got a placing.”
Robert competed against 18 other finalists in the New Zealand Certified Builders (NZCB) Apprentice Challenge, held over three days in Rotorua in May. Judges scored the finalists in various areas, including a presentation, an interview, and written material such as their portfolio, cover letter and CV. They also built a catapult as part of a separate promotion with Mitre 10.
“I didn’t think I’d place in the top three,” says Robert, 33. “Especially with the calibre of guys there.” For claiming a podium finish, Robert won $2500 worth of tools, plus took home the Mitre 10 bench tools he used to make the catapult.
“We kind of felt like superstars down there for the way we were treated. It was such an awesome opportunity and I’ve never had that kind of experience before.
“I came away really motivated to persevere and continue my studies and apprenticeship, and then just go on to get qualified.”
To secure his spot in the national competition, Robert first competed – and came out on top – in a search for North Auckland’s best building apprentice.
Nineteen of the area’s most skilled apprentices went head-to-head for eight hours at the regional challenge in April, turning construction plans into a detailed children’s play castle. Each playhouse included a turret and working drawbridge, and was judged by a panel of experts on workmanship, measuring, cutting and assembly.
Robert came away with the highest overall score – but he says it wasn’t an easy challenge.
“At first I was surprised that I won. I had a few challenges on the day and made a couple of major mistakes, but I knew I had to keep going.
“I started differently to the other guys and built it the other way around – starting with the cladding and then doing the frames last. My family came and I pretty much had nothing to show for the whole day. Then in the last half hour I put everything up, and it was all go from there.”
The Mangere resident, who is in the second year of his apprenticeship at ABS Builders, had the added challenge of leading a father-son building event the night before at Kelston Girls College – an initiative of his church, Breakthrough Church.
“I was focused on that and it didn’t finish until around midnight. So it was all go for me on the Saturday of the competition – I only had a couple of hours to go through the construction plans.
“What helped was knowing how well the event had gone the night before. Seeing those kids and their fathers come together and do a project, and just seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces – that was priceless.”
Although he was introduced to building by his grandfather at a young age, it took a while for Robert to realise he wanted a career in the trades.
The father of four – daughters Edenn (12) and Ayvah (9), and sons Abraham (6) and Joel (7 months) – had been a self-employed courier driver before staying at home to care for his eldest son for more than four years.
“It was a great experience being home with my son. I can honestly say it was the hardest job I’ve done.”
It was during this time that Robert realised he wanted to be a builder, thanks to a visit from his uncle.
“While I was a stay-at-home dad, I gave my uncle a hand renovating my parents’ house. That was when I realised, ‘Man, I’m actually pretty good at this’ – and I liked it too.
“I started helping family out, changing door locks and doing all the odd jobs they couldn’t do. If I didn’t know how to do something, I’d just pick it up and try to figure it out. That’s how it all started for me.”
During the years that Robert took on the bulk of the parenting, his wife Meli was studying to be a nurse. She qualified last year as a registered nurse, allowing Robert to spend more time focusing on his own career.
“We both left our studies late because we weren’t sure what we wanted to do,” says Robert. “But now we’re on the right track. My wife’s found work with Plunket, and I’m finishing my apprenticeship.”
With Robert’s parents being from Tonga – his mum Melenaite from Folaha and his dad Manako from Kolofo’ou – he qualified for an MPTT scholarship. This covered his fees as well as ongoing coaching and support.
“It was a huge help because at the time my wife was still studying. We were getting by week to week without much money, so the scholarship really helped me.
“If I hadn’t got the scholarship, I don’t know if I’d have been able to study. It was a huge opportunity and I wanted to make the most of it.”
Robert completed his pre-trades course at Unitec while working as a builder on Thursdays and Fridays – experience that eventually helped him land an apprenticeship.
“The first year I decided to become a chippy, I had no idea about the terminology. I didn’t know what was what. That one-year course really prepared me for life on the job. It was pretty full-on for me to work as well as study, but we needed the money for our family.”
“I saw the benefits to doing an apprenticeship and being to learn from someone who’s experienced. I was motivated and pretty much had an apprenticeship lined up by the time I finished the year of study.”
Now that he’s well on his way to being qualified, Robert also likes to let others know about the benefits of joining MPTT.
“I introduced the scholarship to my little brother-in-law. I’d like to inspire other Māori and Pasifika to get into the trades.”
What you can learn from Robert
Give things a go – even if you don’t think you’ll succeed. Robert was surprised to win both his regional and national awards – but even though he hadn’t expected to win, that didn’t stop him from getting involved. While you’re gaining experience, it’s normal to worry you’re not skilled enough or not as good as other people. So instead of waiting until you feel ready, aim high and give it your best shot. No matter what, it’ll be great experience – and like Robert, you might be surprised how well you do.
Think you’re not strong enough to succeed in the trades, or worried about being the only woman in a team of guys? Elaine Pereira has been there. But as she discovered, physical strength isn’t as important as you might think, and neither is gender. With her positive attitude and solid work ethic, the 28-year-old has found work she loves, scored a valuable apprenticeship, and is accelerating towards a rewarding career in the automotive industry.
When Elaine Pereira’s car started playing up, her desire to fix it herself ignited a passion for the automotive trade. But despite her enthusiasm, she had doubts about how well she’d fit in as a tradie.
“My first perception of doing automotive was, oh, it’s a male-dominated trade, I’m not sure how it’s going to be. I didn’t know if I was going to be welcome. But everyone’s been really helpful, really kind and approachable. All my doubts that I had in the beginning have been pointless.”
As the only woman apprentice in her workshop at Trucks and Trailers in Wiri, Auckland, she’s found she sometimes takes a different approach to certain tasks, while still getting the same result.
“I may not be physically as strong as some other people, but there’s often other ways to get the job done just as well.
“I’ve found I sometimes do things slightly differently from the males in my workshop. I do ask them for advice, but I make it work for me to suit my comfort zone and my strength.
“For example, installing a transmission takes a lot of upper body strength, which men often have more of. For me, I’ve found I can use blocks of wood so I don’t have to hold the transmission up the whole time. It’s little things like that – finding an easier way to do exactly the same job, without putting yourself out.”
Trucks and Trailers service manager Kelly Henshaw would like to see more women like Elaine making their mark on the industry.
“It’s good to have a woman apprentice in a largely male-dominated industry. It’s not very common unfortunately, but certainly something we encourage. We do notice women are often quite detail-oriented, which is an asset in the trades.”
Unlocking her calling
With a background in the customer service industry, Elaine didn’t always picture herself as a tradie.
“Automotive wasn’t something I thought I would do growing up, but I’ve always been good with my hands. At home, if something breaks, I’m the one who fixes it. So it was something I was interested in; I just hadn’t applied it to a trade yet.
“I do have the personality to do customer service work, but I hit a point where I realised I wasn’t getting anything out of it – it was just a paying-the-bills job. I realised I’d learned everything I could in that industry and I wanted to do something new.”
At that point, she had been working at call centres for around 10 years – but when her family’s car started playing up, she had an epiphany.
“I’d just had a baby and I was on maternity leave. My car wasn’t running well and I was like, ‘I wish I could just get out there and fix it’. And that’s when it dawned on me that I can get out and fix it, and I’m going to learn how.”
Determined to get going, she started looking at automotive courses and enrolled at Unitec – and being Māori (Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa and Ngāpuhi), she qualified for an MPTT scholarship.
Speeding into employment
Elaine, who is married with children aged two and four, started working full-time straight after her pre-trades course.
She found the job with Trucks and Trailers thanks to Got a Trade? Got it Made! SpeedMeet– an event where employers and potential employees can meet each other for short, speed-dating-style interviews.
Mark Lawrence, acting regional manager for industry training organisation MITO, helped introduce Elaine to her employer and says it was clear she was a great candidate for the role.
“She got the job off her own back at the speed meet. She’s motivated and there’s nothing stopping her – she’s got a really good attitude and is a really positive person.”
After meeting some of the managers from Trucks and Trailers, Elaine was invited to come into their workshop to have a look around – and that day they offered her the job.
“I feel like I’ve scored my dream job to be honest,” says Elaine, who also loves that the workshop is just around the corner from her home. “Some days are a bit more challenging than others, but I’m really enjoying myself. My ability to expand my knowledge in this trade has been amazing, and I get to explore my passion for the industry.”
Keys to success
Elaine’s supervisor Kelly says she is a great asset to the team.
“One of her core strengths that really stands out is her positive, bubbly personality and she gets on really well with the team.”
Elaine’s reliability and enthusiasm for the job also make her a valuable employee, says Kelly.
“She’s a family woman with commitments at home, which gives her a different level of responsibility and work ethic. We do find often apprentices who are a bit older and have family to think about have more maturity and commitment to their work, because being able to provide for their family is important to them.”
Elaine was able to negotiate working hours that allow her to drop her youngest son off at daycare in the mornings, which Kelly says the organisation was happy to allow.
“We’re always looking to be flexible where it makes sense to do so. It does need to work for the employer and the rest of the team as well.”
Although she loves her job, Elaine knows it’s not enough if she wants to get qualified and enjoy a lasting trades career. That’s why she let her employer know from the start that she wanted an apprenticeship.
“After all of this I don’t want to be doing something and not get qualified at the end. I want to be doing something that will be with me forever.”
Having recently signed the contract for her apprenticeship, Elaine says the key to success was being open with her employer about her goals.
“I think my age and having worked full time previously helped me open those lines of communication.
“If I could tell my 18-year-old self what I know now, I would say just be honest, because having a good and open relationship with your employer can improve your work-life balance. I wish I’d had that advice when I was 18 and looking for a job.”
She says the best time to bring up your career goals or any issues that might impact your work is when you first meet your potential employer.
“Being honest from the start is important. Whether or not you think someone’s going to want to hear it, you’ve got to be honest.”
Employer Spotlight: Trucks and Trailers
Trucks and Trailers is a dealership for Mercedez-Benz Trucks and Vans and Freightliner Trucks. With three locations across the North Island, the organisation employs more than 90 staff including 15 apprentices. MITO’s Mark Lawrence says it’s a great working environment that’s suitable for trainees developing their automotive skills. “Trucks and Trailers are always looking for young people to join their team, and it’s a supportive environment to learn in.”
What you can learn from Elaine
Let your boss know about anything that might impact your work – even if you’re worried they won’t like it. Whether it’s an issue with your kids or your health, it’s best to be honest about it. Even though it can seem easier to just say nothing, if your boss doesn’t know what’s going on they won’t be able to help. Remember, part of your employer’s job is to support you to do the best work you can, so it’s best to let them know about any problems as soon as you can.
Ian Barnes, an MPTT trainee who graduated in 2016 and is now an apprentice with Dickson Gray Electrical has been awarded a $7,500 Ideal Electrical/Smiths tools package for his commitment to innovation.
Ian graduated from Unitec and is doing his apprenticeship through our partner Skills.