Tikanga and strong relationships are the foundation for Māori and Pasifika success at NZMA

NZMA is unlocking new futures for Māori and Pasifika by doing things differently. 

The team at NZMA has put tikanga Māori at the foundation of its relationships with tauira, whānau and the community. As a result, they’re breaking down barriers for a whole range of learners. 

Vau Atonio, Campus Manager, says it’s an approach that is woven into every part of NZMA’s programme. He’s come through roles that include teaching, stakeholder engagement, regional sales manager, head of faculty and now campus manager, allowing him to see how each layer of the organisation works with the rest. 


Building a place for people to thrive

“It starts on the first day at orientation. It’s all about making sure that when tauira walk through the door, the first thing they see is a big smile.

“I truly believe that if cultural inclusivity is embedded from the outset, outcomes will follow, and students will flourish.” 

An example of this is the learning environment created when NZMA partnered with Hoani Waititi Marae to establish NZMA’s Trades West Campus. It means culture always has a visible presence.

“We run classes every week for each cohort where they learn about the language and customs. Our students enjoy the pōwhiri. For many, it brings comfort from the get-go because they see what they’re used to at home reflected in their learning space. 

I tell my students: ‘You need to feel like this is your home. Because if you feel safe, you’ll be better able to learn and grow.” 


He tangata

“It’s about creating an environment that is full of the things our people are good at, so it’s supportive of learning and growth,” says Vau.

“We embrace waiata and karakia, and it’s a family orientated thing. We want to ensure our students are proud of their culture.

We prepare them to speak about themselves articulately, express what they need and be confident to talk about their skills.” 

NZMA’s philosophy has always been about building genuine relationships with students, treating everyone with respect, and understanding that they are all individuals with different dreams, pressures and needs. It creates an inclusive environment for a diverse group of learners. 

“Some learners that come through that just don’t fit the school mould. We also have a broad range of ages.”

“Tikanga gives us the platform to support and rebuild our learners who have had a negative schooling experience or may have low self-esteem.” 

“At all three of NZMAs Trades campuses, we have a regular lunch where everyone just puts down their tools and breaks bread together. This is about getting to know each other and sharing each other’s stories.”


NZMA has three campuses specialising in trades.

Drop into a campus near you, say hi and see why NZMA could be the place for you.

NZMA Trades Centre

807 Great South Road, Mount Wellington, Auckland 1060, 
Phone: 09 217 0501

  • Painting & Plastering
  • Construction
NZMA Trades West

Parrs Park, 443 West Coast Road, Oratia, Glen Eden, Auckland 0602, 
Phone: 09 217 0501

  • Construction
  • Plumbing & Gasfitting
  • Electrical Engineering
NZMA Trades South

15c Vestey Drive Auckland, Mt Wellington, Mount Wellington, Auckland 1060
Phone: 09 217 0501

  • Plumbing & Gasfitting
  • Electrical Engineering

What you can see shows what you can be

Vau says NZMA knows students need to be able to recognise themselves in the staff and tutors so they can see what’s possible. This is especially so for supporting women into the trades

Jasmine, Karley and Toa are three Construction Tutors who are welcoming a new generation of wāhine into their classrooms at NZMA.

“When we have so many women as tutors, it means trainees have relatable and inspiring role models so they can see, ‘Hey, I can do that too,” says Vau. 

Jasmine, a construction tutor, says NZMA trades training has a great atmosphere for women and the whole industry is less male-dominated than in the past. Toa and Karley say they see women flourish at their campus and say their determination shines through. 

“They’re less likely to just fall into it as a pathway. Instead, it’s a conscious choice.” 

You can read more about the women breaking down stereotypes here.


Practical support and skills are a focus 

Vau says NZMA sets Māori and Pasifika up for both immediate and long-term success.

“Being amazing at what you do is not enough; you also need to be reliable. This means sorting transport and making sure you’ve got the right gear. 

“Our trainees are ready to work hard. We want to equip them with self-belief as well, so they have the persistence to complete their apprenticeships.

“I tell them that once you’re qualified, you become the decision-maker. You become the person who gets to make the decisions that change people’s lives and also to make decisions that make your life a better place.” 

“We have the opportunity to change lives, and I’m really grateful for that.”


Shifting the Dial

Vau recently contributed NZMA’s insights on Māori and Pasifika learners to a report, ‘Shifting the Dial: The Economic and Societal Impact of Removing Barriers for Underserved Learners in Aotearoa (2022).   

Vau explains, “Many of our students feel an inherent responsibility to their families to make the most of every opportunity and to pave the way for the next generation.  

“They are often the first to pursue post-secondary education in their families. It can be easy for them to feel alone and unsure of themselves in these unfamiliar waters. 

“Our students are striving for generational change, not only in their educational capabilities but also for their families’ financial situation.” 

With every graduate, NZMA is helping another new tradie create that future. 

Women are working it in the trades

Female trades trainees at NZMA
Wāhine Māori and Pasifika are breaking down stereotypes and building futures.

At NZMA, Dalice, Shalei, Mereana and Ngatamaine are women who are stepping up in their steelcaps to learn a trade. They’re backed by a supportive learning environment, inspired by female tutors and passionate about developing their skills. They told us about their experience so far and offered encouragement to other women thinking about the trades.  

According to these wāhine, change is coming to the old stereotype that trades are male-dominated.  

When Dalice Kareko wondered about learning a trade, one of her first questions to NZMA was whether other women were studying. She was surprised to find out that more than half the class was female. She’s also realised that the work is so varied that it’s easier to hold your own than expected.

“It’s cool to be able to read a plan literally off the wall of the building and interpret it into a real-life project.”


Malice Kareko is studying Level 3 Construction at NZMA
Dalice Kareko is studying Level 3 Construction at NZMA with the help of a scholarship from
Māori and Pasifika Trades Training.

It’s a profession with potential

Dalice decided to learn construction to set herself up with a profession and options. She said she looked ahead and realised she wanted more from life than turning up for a shift. In particular, she wanted a skill that she could turn into a career.

“I just want to step out beyond the usual jobs and office work to do something outdoorsy.”  

Tutor Jasmine Lolo wishes more young women knew how many options there are. “The trades are about so much more than building… you can take almost any path,” she said. Jasmine gave the example of health and safety specialists or site managers – these roles are far different to the ‘hammer and nail’ people might think of.

And the earning potential is attractive too. Mereana Panui saw how much builders were earning and decided that it shouldn’t just be for the boys. 

“It looked pretty fun! Right now, I’m just enjoying it, but it’s also about the end game: It’s a good career.”


Gaining skills is satisfying

The wāhine we spoke to all talked about how rewarding it is to learn how to use tools and create things. 

Ngatamaine Tipukoroa is studying electrical at NZMA, and it suits her because she likes to work with her hands. “I like to challenge myself, and the challenge is good. Not many people back home in the Islands have the skills to work in electrical, so what I’m learning will mean I can really help. Together we’ll be able to build homes.”

Shalei Seumanutafa gets a kick knowing she can hold her own when it comes to using tools and looks forward to having something to show for a day’s work. 

“I love the idea of actually being able to see your work take shape in front of you. I know people in construction who can point out huge apartments and buildings and say, ‘Yeah, I worked on that.’  And I will be able to say that as well! 

Shalei is excited about starting her apprenticeship because she knows that it will build her skills and satisfaction further.

“I want to move up. And I just like learning.

“An apprenticeship gives you the chance to work right alongside more experienced workers, get discipline and have the interest of different sites to go to.”

And then there’s the satisfaction of building things rather than buying them. I can build things for my chickens or guinea pigs and fix stuff around the house. And I get the reward of knowing I did that,” said Shalei.

Shalei is another MPTT scholarship recipient preparing for a career in construction at NZMA Trades.

Putting your passion first

Since starting at NZMA, Shalei knows she’s exactly where she wants to be. At high school, she enjoyed building but the classes were full of boys. She ended up switching to sewing. However, after working in an office, she knew her heart was in the trades. Having a bit of life experience made it easier to step into something new.

“I know who I am now, and I feel more comfortable because I know this is what I really want to do.” She advises others to be true to themselves as well. 

“I’ve been feeling like I wanted to do trades since school, and now I’m here, and it’s way cooler. So, it’s worth thinking about what makes you happy. Do what you want to do, and not just what others think you should be doing. Follow your gut!”


There’s a sense of support

It’s clear that NZMA has created an environment where women can thrive in their training. 

Mereana said,  “I wasn’t expecting lots of females to be in my class, but there are heaps. And there are a lot of age groups too.

“We’re working in smaller groups to build our cabins, and I’m the team leader. So, it’s soft skills that we’re building too.”

“I was worried people might treat me differently as a female. I was ready to have to work extra hard to prove myself. But it wasn’t really like that. The tutors are all good and super supportive.” 

Dalice said having female tutors makes a big difference. “They get it. And they show that there are real prospects and possibilities.”

It won’t be long before Dalice, Shalei, Mereana and Ngatamaine are out working and inspiring others to do the same. Ngatamaine is already looking forward to a prestigious apprenticeship with Hawkins. She knows getting qualified will set her up for long term success, and she hopes more females will follow. 

“As women, we’re proving to everyone that we can make it. So don’t be afraid to put your name down and step up for trades. Follow your heart and keep going.”

Mereana Panui, Construction trainee and MPTT scholarship recipient currently doing her pre-trades at NZMA.

‘Sparkies make a lot of dollars’

Jharden Davis (Ngāti Hine) grew up in a small town in the Bay of Islands, where most people he knew got a job at the local meatworks. After leaving school, he joined them for a few years – along with trying his hand at shearing sheep and working as a labourer. 

But Jharden had dreams of being a qualified tradie, so he moved to Auckland with his girlfriend. With hard work, plenty of study, and support through an MPTT scholarship, the 23-year-old landed an apprenticeship at Aotea Electrical in January 2019. We caught up with Jharden to find out how it’s all going, and his future plans to help others get qualified.

So Jharden, tell us about what made you move to Auckland. 

I was just sick of working at the meatworks. Back home, the majority of us work at Affco in Moerewa (a meat processing facility). I know a lot of people at the meatworks – pretty much my family, eh. Uncles, cousins. 

Everyone calls it the university, you know, because once you go, you usually don’t leave. I was making pretty good money there, actually. But I didn’t want to stay there for the rest of my life and know nothing else except butchering. I wanted to do something else with my life. 

Why did you choose to train as a sparky?

I just knew electrical was big bucks. I had three major things I wanted to do, which were architectural design, quantity surveying or being a sparky. 

I did a week of quantity surveying, and that was really boring. Write down your measurements, go back to the office. But I don’t like being in the office, I like being out and about. 

With architectural design, my uncle is one, so I worked with him for a bit. I liked the job, but again, you’re sitting down in the office all day, just drawing and making plans. I wanted to be outside. 

With electrical, I was determined. I was like, this is the third one, I’ve really got to decide because I’ve come to Auckland with no knowledge of anything. So I thought, ‘I’ve got to put my head down and do the study and get qualified’. 

How is your apprenticeship going so far?

I’ve really enjoyed it. I think the pre-trades course I did at Unitec really helped me out with all the theory work. I waited about five years after school before going back to uni, so I’d forgotten everything – so it’s made it a lot easier to understand everything that’s come at me.

If you’re a good worker, it’s not hard to do the work. You just need to actually study, because the things you learn will apply to you when you do qualify. Like, a lot of what you study, you get to see it but you can’t actually do it, because you’re not allowed to touch live work while you’re an apprentice. Most things you study, you have to be qualified to do. In the end it’s worth studying hard because you won’t use all of it now, but later on, you will use it. 

It’s a different job once you get qualified. A lot more responsibility falls on your shoulders. Apprentices are there and we can do a lot of stuff, but in the end you have to be qualified to sign everything off. 

Has your job changed at all due to Covid-19?

Because of Covid, we’re only allowed a few guys on site at a time, so I’ve been moved to a different site. I’d been working on a 12-storey apartment building at Silo Park, but right now, I’m in Henderson working with four men and one woman. We’re all apprentices except for our foreman, who’s been qualified longer than I’ve been alive. 

At work, masks are compulsory. We have to use hand sanitiser when we come in and out, and sign in on the Covid tracer app. We keep a two-metre distance from each other, unless you really can’t, and then you try not to touch. Everyone’s pretty wary of catching the virus, so it’s all well looked after on site and everyone keeps their distance. 

What about your bookwork – has that been impacted by the lockdown?

The lockdown gave a lot of apprentices time to look at their bookwork and actually study, which was good. Everyone has come back a bit more knowledgeable. 

We have night class to attend, which is compulsory, and that’s on Zoom sessions at the moment because of Covid. The guys in my class are really good. Everyone just mutes themselves while the tutor is speaking, and once he asks if there are any questions, you unmute yourself to speak. 

What are your dreams for the future?

My biggest goal once I’m a qualified sparky is to start my own company back home in the Bay of Islands, and help Māori, or anyone really who’s up there, to get their apprenticeship. It’s a really good trade, and I want to help others get into it.

What advice do you have for those looking to train as an electrician?

I think doing an electrical trade is something you don’t want to waste your time with if you’re not serious about it. Don’t clock out halfway through, because that’s no help to yourself or the company you’re working for. Stick with it.

Also, just be a good worker in general. Show up, be trustworthy, be keen and eager to learn a trade. Be honest about what you know and what you don’t know. 

Electrical is a really good trade. It gives you a lot of job opportunities, worldwide. You can travel with your New Zealand ticket and it’s still valid. So put in the work, especially the bookwork, that’s most important. And yeah – sparkies make a lot of dollars.

Crossing the finish line:
Get qualified on time

Finishing your apprenticeship means you can stop studying and start enjoying being a qualified tradie – including earning more money and having more job opportunities.

But getting qualified is more of a marathon than a sprint. From your pre-trades course to the end of your apprenticeship you’ll be training for several years, so it’s important to stay motivated along the way.

The exact time it takes depends on your trade, and whether you already have some of the skills you need (like if you’ve worked as a hammerhand). But no matter what your situation, the sooner you get certified, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits. Plus, if you wait too long without progressing, you might need to pay another apprenticeship fee.

Remember, you’re never alone in your training journey – there’s heaps of support to help you get your qualification. So read on for how to ensure you complete your apprenticeship in good time, and what to do when problems come up.

Why get qualified?

It takes work to get your qualification, so it’s important to remember why you’re doing it.

Jodi Franklin from MITO says there are a lot of benefits to getting qualified besides not having to study anymore.

“A lot of things happen when you get qualified. It’s not just a certificate; generally you’re rewarded in the workplace with a pay increase. And the world’s your oyster in terms of being able to take your qualification all over the world. If you want to go and live somewhere else for a change of scenery, you can take your qualification with you.”

On the other hand, if you don’t get qualified, you’ll limit your opportunities and how much you can earn, says Jodi.

“It doesn’t matter how close you get to completing your qualification. Even if you finish 99%, it’s not recognised until you complete it.”

So if you want more money and more mana on the job, and the freedom to take your skills overseas or start your own business, get your certification sorted as soon as you can.

Take away: You need to get qualified to get the benefits from your training, like more money and more job opportunities.
Good timing

When you sign on for an apprenticeship, your training provider (called an Industry Training Organisation, or ITO) will let you know how long it’ll ideally take you to complete your qualification. Depending on your trade, this is usually between 2 years and 4 ½ years of being an apprentice.

But it’s important to know that apprenticeships aren’t just about the hours you spend on site. Instead, you need to show the skills you’ve developed, says Doug Leef from BCITO.

“It’s all about competency. We all learn differently and, as such, progression from person to person differs. A lot of this comes down to the relationships forged on the job site and the quality of training and supervision given to trainees.”

Your employer is responsible for making sure you get the practical training you need during your apprenticeship, says Doug.

“That onus falls on the employer. It’s their responsibility to get trainees qualified. When they sign the apprentice up, we make the employer aware of the scope of work required.”

Take away: Apprentices need to show they have the right practical skills. Your boss is responsible for making sure you learn all the skills you need on the job, but you can help move things along quickly. Have a chat to your boss or ITO training advisor about the skills you need to learn, and make a plan for what you want to get signed off at your next meeting with your training advisor.

Getting qualified is more of a marathon than a sprint.

In theory

But it’s not enough to just show up to work and do what your employer says. As an apprentice, you need to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. That’s where theory or book work comes in.

“It can be a bit daunting to have all this theory to learn,” says Doug. “But you’ve got to understand the underpinning theory and the reasons behind why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s not just throwing houses up; it’s about compliance, accountability and administration.”

The biggest challenge for most apprentices is finding time for their theory work on top of working full-time. Depending on your trade and schedule, you might do your theory work during a block course (where you go into a classroom with other trainees on certain days), a night class after working hours, or at home in your spare time.

“It’s about managing your hours,” says Aimee Hutcheson from Skills. “Most apprentices are flat tack as soon as they enter the industry, so they need to work with their employer to fit in time for their theory work.”

To make sure your theory work doesn’t build up and get overwhelming, make time to work on it regularly, says Jodi.

“The most successful apprentices are the ones who get into a routine. It might help to go along to a night class. Otherwise, you need to find that one night where you’re not playing rugby or busy with other commitments. Even just a couple of hours a week makes a big difference. Doing a little bit and often is the key to success.”

Take away: Make time every week to do a bit of your theory work, so you don’t fall behind. When you regularly do work towards your qualification, you know you’re building your skills and getting closer to being a skilled tradie. And remember, you don’t have to do it alone – there’s heaps of support available, so if you need help or have a question, talk to your boss or training advisor.
Needing help – it’s normal

Many trainees feel whakamā (shy or embarrassed) when asking for help. But the truth is, everyone needs help at some point in their training.

Remember, it’s normal to need to ask questions sometimes, and no-one expects you to know everything.

“We’re all embarrassed to ask for help from time to time,” says Doug. “But you need to put your hand up early. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.”

One reason you might need support is if you don’t understand something your tutor says in class. It’s really important to speak up, because no question is a dumb question. Chances are, other students are wondering about the same thing.

“We do have people who have had to resit exams because of the spiral effect of being too shy to ask questions in class,” says Aimee. “Then they’re resitting because they’ve never had the relationship with their tutor to not be whakamā to ask questions and ask for help.”

Having learning differences, like dyslexia, can also mean you need to ask for help. If you’re not sure if that applies to you, don’t worry. Your ITO will do a quick test to see if you’d benefit from help with literacy or numeracy – and there’s plenty of support available.

“You can talk to your employer or tutor if you need help, or your training advisor (from your ITO) is just a phone call away if you have any questions or concerns,” says Aimee.

“You’ve got to build that confidence to be able to ask questions and ask for help if you’re struggling. At the end of the day, we all want you to get through and get qualified, and to feel like you’re achieving as well – to understand what you’re learning, not just check a box.”

Take away: Everyone needs help sometimes, so make sure you speak up if you don’t understand something or are finding anything difficult.
Work worries

At some point during your apprenticeship, you might need to change jobs.

“Some trainees want to change employers because they’re travelling too far for work, or there’s not enough work, or maybe they’re not getting on with people on site,” says Doug. “It’s not the trainee or the employer’s fault – it’s just life.”

It’s okay to change jobs if you need to, but remember that an apprenticeship is an agreement between three parties: you, your employer and your apprenticeship provider. So when you leave your employer, you break the apprenticeship contract and you’ll need to sign another one with your next employer.

Before you change jobs, make sure your new boss is supportive of you doing an apprenticeship, says Jodi.

“You don’t have to stick it out in an employment situation that’s not right for you. And it’s the same if apprentices are laid off because their employer doesn’t have enough work for them or they want experience in other parts of the industry.

“You can change jobs and continue your apprenticeship, if you have the support of your new employer.”

If you’ve already had parts of your apprenticeship signed off and completed, don’t worry. The work you’ve already completed will stay in the system and you can transfer that to your new job.

But remember, changing jobs often takes time, which can delay your progress. For example, your new employer might want you to do a trial for a few months before giving you an apprenticeship. So change jobs if you need to, but don’t do it lightly.

Take away: It’s best to stay with your employer if you can. If you need to change jobs, make sure your new boss wants to give you an apprenticeship.
Need a break?

Sometimes life gets in the way of your learning. If you’re not able to work for a while, then you might be able to take a brief break from your apprenticeship, as long as your boss is on board.

“If you take a short break due to injury, then as long as your employer is aware of it and you’re still employed by the same company, it’s not an issue,” says Doug.

“For example, if you’ve hurt your knee playing rugby and you’re on ACC then we’ll say, ‘This person’s not working; they’re still in their apprenticeship, but their employer and ITO recognise they’re not fit for work’. So we can put your apprenticeship on hold until you can work again.”

But remember, you can’t put your apprenticeship on hold forever. You need to talk to your boss and ITO about why you need a break, and make a plan for when you’ll return.

“Apprenticeships can time out,” says Aimee. “Sometimes you can get an extension, but not by much. If you run out of time, you can be charged a fee because it’s almost like you’re signing up for that year of your apprenticeship again. You can’t just put it on hold indefinitely.”

Take away: If you need a break, talk to your employer and ITO and see if they can support your break from work. Just make sure you don’t leave it too long before you come back to your apprenticeship, because the longer you leave it, the more difficult it is to get back into it – plus you might be charged an extra fee.

Trade secrets: 3 trainees share their stories

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.
Christine Swepson

“It’s a lifelong skill that I can take with me forever.”

Age: 30
Samoan, from the village of Palauli, Vailoa.
Studying: New Zealand Certificate in Electrical Engineering Theory (Level 3) at Manukau Institute of Technology


  1. What attracted you to a career in the trades?
  2. 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.

  3. What are your goals?
  4. 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.

  5. How has the MPTT programme helped you?
  6. 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.

    Marvin Solway

    “There’ll be plenty of work and the pay’s good.”

    Marvin Solway

    Age: 18
    Māori (Ngāpuhi) and Niuean
    Studying: New Zealand Certificate in Plumbing, Gasfitting and Drainlaying (Level 3) at Unitec


    1. What attracted you to a career in the trades?
    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. How has the MPTT programme helped you?
    5. 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. 

      Autalavou Tupuiliu

      “I want to go all the way in this career path – I’m all in.”

      Age: 23
      Samoan, from the village of Faletagaloa Safune, Savai’i
      Studying: New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills – Carpentry (Level 3) at Unitec


      1. What attracted you to a career in the trades?
      2. 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!

      3. What are your goals?
      4. 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. 

      5. How has the MPTT programme helped you?
      6. 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.

Completing the circuit

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.

Cruise Tito, qualified electrician
Qualified electrician and MPTT Alumni Cruise Tito completed his apprenticeship on November 2018.

Lightbulb moment

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.

New NZMA Trades Campus to address skills shortage

NZMA Press Release, 10 April 2018 – Today, the Minister for Building and Construction and Associate Education Minister, The Hon. Jenny Salesa, MP opened the newly refurbished 8000 square metres New Zealand Management Academies (NZMA) Trades Campus, on Great South Road, Mount Wellington, Auckland.

Fitted out with brand new classrooms, workshops, and lab, the purpose-built site will be a hub for students wanting to learn trades skills in South Auckland.

After the official powhiri, the Minister said, “I am impressed with the vision shown by New Zealand Management Academies to open this facility to train more builders, painters, plumbers and electricians. Last year thousands of NZMA graduates and students were placed into jobs. I have no doubt there will be a high demand for your trades students. I look forward to seeing more Pacific and Maori tradespeople graduate from here, and I congratulate the Academy for being part of the Housing Solution” With demand growing for skilled workers across the industry, the campus will be used by hundreds of students and staff. Programmes are available in Construction, Electrical Engineering, Painting and Plastering, Plumbing, Gasfitting and Drain Laying, and Youth Guarantee Level 2 all in a single NZMA hub. It will add to NZMA’s enviable reputation for delivering work-ready skills, from top level qualified tutors who know the industry inside-out. NZMA

Chief Executive, Mark Worsop says, “With New Zealand’s current construction boom there is real demand for skilled tradespeople, and we can address this shortfall with quality training and job placement.”

He added, “We’re really proud to be developing young people in these important and booming trade arenas. This campus will be an important training hub in Auckland, and we’re working closely with construction industry companies to place our graduates in sustainable employment”.

There is no better way to learn about the construction industry than to do it yourself, and NZMA is giving people building experience they’d find hard to get anywhere else. NZMA also have a team of Careers specialists who assist students in finding the right job.

According to a recent Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) report, construction investment growth is set to peak in 2020 and will increase requirements for construction-related occupations until at least the end of 2022.

Employers are facing an increasing skills shortage with overall construction staff demand in New Zealand set to increase by 11 per cent by 2022. This means around 56,000 new employees will be needed with approximately half of that demand centring around Auckland’s construction industry. (reference https://www.michaelpage.co.nz/advice/market-insights/industry-reports/new-zealand-s-construction-boom-means-big-demand-talent

Every area of construction is now mostly considered a skills shortage. From labourers to carpenters, plumbers to electricians, site supervisors to quantity surveyors, and engineers – skilled staff are hard to find.

With an easily accessible NZMA Trades Campus in South Auckland, the entire community will benefit. With strong numbers of Maori and Pasifika students, as well as those who have recently moved to New Zealand, getting a head-start on their careers will be easier with a campus of this calibre.

Qualified! Hawkins Māori & Pasifika Apprentice Scheme

Earlier this month, we celebrated four of our trainees becoming qualified tradesmen under the guidance of their respective mentors in the Hawkins Māori & Pasifika apprentice scheme.
Bo Waitere

Bo started his electrical apprenticeship in December 2014 with Caldwell & Levesque Electrical and now proudly has his own C&L van as a qualified electrician.

Jerome Holland

Jerome started his electrical apprenticeship in December 2014 also with Caldwell & Levesque Electrical and again proudly wears his new title of a qualified electrician.

Qualified electricians, Bo Waitere and Jerome Holland
Bo Waitere, left and Jerome Holland, right, with their mentor, Graeme Cox

Mackenzie Buchan

Mackenzie started his carpentry apprenticeship in March 2014 with Livefirm Construction and recently completed his apprenticeship with Hawkins

Certified Carpenter Mackenzie Buchan
Mackenzie Buchan, right, with his mentor Paul Wikiriwhi

Aarona Kingi-Paparoa

Aaron started his carpentry apprenticeship in December 2012 with Livefirm Construction and completed his last few years with CLM Carpenters. 

Certified Carpenter Aarona King-Paparoa
Aarona Kingi-Paparoa with his mentor, Richard Hughes

These boys had their own trials and tribulations to battle throughout their apprenticeship and have come out on top! Each of them should be so proud. Ngā mihi nui to all our mentors for seeing the boys through their apprenticeship adventures! 

C&L Apprentice of the year

In another win for the Hawkins Māori & Pasifika apprentice programme, Talmage Park has won the 2017 C&L Apprentice of the Year award. Talmage is pictured above receiving the award on-site from Stuart Caldwell. 

Caldwell & Levesque Electrical currently employs over 30 apprentices, six of whom came to us through the Hawkins Māori & Pasifika apprentice scheme.

Talmage has done extremely well this year in all facets of his apprenticeship: academically, with his unit standard sign-offs; and with his work on site. He is a positive but humble young man with a ‘can do’ attitude and is a very worthy recipient of this award.

Upon receiving the award Talmage said: “I can’t wait to show my mum”. What a great response from this young man with a big future!

C&L Apprentice of the year award winner Talmage Park
Congratulations to Talmage Park, pictured left, receiving the C&L Apprentice of the Year Award from Stuart Caldwell

 

Bright spark

Father-of-four Andrew Leota always knew his true passion was in the trades. The 34-year-old had dabbled in other jobs while he focused on his kids, who are aged between one and eight. But last year, Andrew decided it was time to find an outlet for the hands-on skills he’s passionate about.

“I thought to myself, I’m not getting any younger. Now I want to do something that makes me happy – and it’s always been electrical.”

Powering up

Andrew, who received a scholarship from Māori and Pasifika Trades Training: Auckland (MPTT Auckland), is due to finish his Level 4 training at Manukau Institute of Technology this month.

Having previously worked as an air traffic controller in Samoa and as a youth worker for the Ministry for Vulnerable Children in New Zealand, Andrew already has years of work experience under his belt.

This has given him a solid foundation of work readiness skills, from time management to teamwork.

Armed with these skills and his new qualification, Andrew is now keen to find his first job in the industry.

Taking charge

Andrew is committed to putting in the hard yards to create a solid foundation for his trades career.

“Some people think once you get a qualification, you have to hit the top and be the boss straight away. But when you’re a new employee, even though you’ve finished school there’s always plenty more learning involved.

“You need to do less attractive jobs and you have to learn from that sort of work. I think people need to understand that, because getting qualified is a lot of work.”

Andrew’s future goals include completing an apprenticeship and eventually starting a business of his own.

“I want to do it properly – get the papers and qualifications and be confident in what I’m doing. Looking towards the future, I want to be my own boss.”

Auckland polytechnic sees intake increase for female electricians

By Kymberlee Fernandes, Manukau Courier

More women are studying to get into the trades, with a career as an electrician being a popular choice at one polytechnic.

Marama Amber de Rungs is the only girl in her class of electrical engineering, Level 4.
On the other hand, Sela Pohiva’s class has six boys and five girls studying electrical engineering, Level 3.

They are among many students who are training at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) under the Māori & Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT) scholarship. MPTT has had a total of 1,632 trainees in Auckland come through since 2014, of which 433 were female.

Sela Pohiva, 19, says it was a “last minute” career choice.

“Everyone talks about how we don’t have enough skilled tradespeople, and I want to change that.”

“I want to help around South Auckland,” the former Papakura High student says.

“There’s a lot of satisfaction in solving circuits and doing the wiring. I really like the mathematical side of it.”

When she tells people what she’s doing, she’s often responded with a “really?”.

“I don’t mind it. It pushes me more,” she says. “If you definitely want to do it, don’t let people’s opinion hold you back,” Pohiva advises other girls contemplating a career in the trades.

For Marama, 24, she was initially pretty serious about a career nursing, but, after a few setbacks and a gap year, she decided to get into electrical engineering.

Being the only girl in her class has made her even more ambitious, she says.

“You can see how it’s neutralised the class.”

She’s hoping to test the waters in the residential installation sector.

“A lot of residential employers that I’ve talked to say elderly people like women electricians. They’d rather wait a couple of months for a woman to be available than [have a] man to do the work,” she says.

Women studying electrical
Warren Mills, electrical trades lecturer at MIT is happy about the girls getting into the trade.

“It is giving us males a run for our money.”

He says the options in the electrical field are endless.

“You can get in to lighting, house wiring, industrial, mining, electronics, electric cars, solar power. Auckland is 13 per cent short of electricians in the industry.”

Lance Riesterer, general manager specialist trades and commercial at Skills, a multi-sector Industry Training Organisation (ITO) says women are “capable of excelling at all the skills needed to succeed” in the electrical trade.

“Two years after completing their apprenticeship, electricians can earn up to $54k per annum. For experienced electricians working in specialist fields, they can earn in excess of $100k per year,” Riesterer says.

MIT Electrical Trainees

 

 

* This article was originally published in the Manukau Courier and on stuff.co.nz

 

Wired for Success

Getting an apprenticeship – not just a job – is the key to a rewarding career in the trades. That’s the view of electrical trainee Ioane McNiell-Temese, who began his apprenticeship at Coll Electrical in August this year.

“I thought it was really important to get qualified. It’s something I’ll have behind me for the rest of my life. What’s three years of training compared to a life of just labouring?”

More than a job

So what’s the difference between a job and an apprenticeship?

“Getting a job means you get paid to work for an employer,” says Tony Laulu, Pacific Advisor at Skills. “This can be a good start, but does mean the employer hasn’t necessarily committed to helping you get qualified.

“On the other hand, getting an apprenticeship means you’re actively working towards your qualification while you get paid. This includes spending some time at a polytechnic course as well as learning on the job. As an apprentice, your employer has committed to helping you get your qualification.”

Ioane, who is being supported by MPTT Auckland, could see the advantages of landing an apprenticeship.

“It opens up more doors than just being a labourer or driving a digger. Maybe in the future I can go to Australia or even start my own business.”

The 21-year-old, who is half Samoan, is quick to encourage other trainees to take the same path, if they get the chance.

“Get your apprenticeship as soon as you can. If you think you’re ready, even a little bit ready, you’re ready. Go out and do it – it’s much better than sitting in a classroom everyday; you’re making money while you study.”

Ioane was doing a Certificate in Electrical Engineering Theory (Level 3) at Manukau Institute of Technology when the opportunity arose to join the workforce.

His MPTT navigator Travis Fenton introduced Ioane to Pat Coll, founder of Coll Electrical.

“Pat asked me to come in just for a chat, and that chat turned out to be the interview,” says Ioane. “That’s how I got the job – easy as that.”

A win-win

Pat, who’s trained about 180 electrical apprentices since starting Coll Electrical back in 1985, says apprenticeships are a win-win, offering big benefits to both aspiring tradies and employers.

“Taking on apprentices is the right thing to do. It’s better for them, and it’s better for us,” he says.

“You’re giving workers an opportunity to up-skill, which means they can get paid more. A lot of people who get an apprenticeship find out they’re quite good at it and they get better and better. You see people grow, and it’s a neat feeling actually.”

Pat says more employers should consider taking on apprentices, rather than just hiring labourers.

“Why have a labourer when you can have an apprentice who’s just going to get better and better?

Hands-on skills

Having previously worked as a chef, Ioane’s now loving the chance to work in a more physical job.

“I’m really enjoying the work. It’s a bit different to the old cooking job! It’s more physical than I thought. I’m doing civil work at the moment, so I’ve been putting up street poles for the past month or so. The spade has been my friend.”

As part of his apprenticeship, Ioane will complete his Level 3 and Level 4 while he works. He’s doing his apprenticeship through Skills, and will spend one day in a classroom every fortnight – while still being paid.

Pat says he doesn’t mind losing his apprentices when they go off-site to study.

“Skills is very good. They come in and sign the apprentices up, they assign them to which tech they’re going, and we just keep an eye on it. I have apprentices who I don’t have any issues with right through their apprenticeship. They go to tech, we sign off their book, they do their job, we pay them. It’s great – couldn’t be better.”