Shifting the Dial – together

Shifting the dial
Shifting the Dial is a new paper that reveals the far-reaching benefits of improved learning and training pathways for Māori and Pasifika. Billions of dollars in earning increases are available if changes are made. And that could transform our communities.

Simply put, the needs of our people must lead innovation in the education sector.

The paper showed compelling economic modelling by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research. Lifting the educational outcomes of underserved learners to the national average would lead to $10.9 billion in extra wages over a thirty-year period, adjusting for labour force participation.

The paper was led by UP Education, which offers a whole range of training, including through MPTT training provider, NZMA. NZMA trades is already doing great things to lead with tikanga and to support women into the trades.

Craig Rushworth, CE of UP Education, says it’s about putting learners first.

“While underserved learners come from a wide range of ethnicities and backgrounds, Māori, Pacific peoples and people with disabilities are over-represented in the underserved learners’ group. So, it’s clear that we can improve our education system because currently, it’s not delivering for too many learners of Aotearoa.”


The paper gave 13 recommendations for government, policymakers and education providers to shift the Dial.

  1. Adopt and invest in tried and tested learning programmes that have been co-designed with Māori, Pacific and disabled communities to create system-wide change.
  2. Implement tailored learning plans that focus on each individual learner, identify their barriers to education and develop a strategy to address these.
  3. Introduce improved wraparound services – social workers, counsellors, support workers and careers advisors – dedicated to working with hard-to-reach students.
  4. Introduce accessibility legislation with clear standards for post-secondary education providers with a focus on mainstreaming accessibility.
  5. Implement national best practices for support services that work regularly with students at risk of being underserved.
  6. Encourage innovation and flexibility in the post-secondary education sector with the implementation of incentives to improve educational outcomes for hard-to-reach ākonga.
  7. Increase the visibility of Māori, Pacific and people with disabilities in the education sector through a focused recruitment strategy and workforce development strategy.
  8. Facilitate education providers to partner with iwi to deliver education programmes through marae, with a tikanga learning approach.
  9. Provide improved mechanisms for Māori, Pacific and disabled students to have a stronger voice on decisions and strategies that impact them.
  10. Ensure the teaching of soft and life skills is built into all courses so that all learners leave a course not only academically qualified but also work-ready.
  11. Expand vocational trades training into more secondary schools through partnership with tertiary providers, with the aim of keeping more young people engaged with education.
  12. Undertake a review of curricula so that they are immersive and culturally inclusive to ensure course materials reflect a modern New Zealand and that all students can see themselves in the material they are learning from.
  13. Create a sense of belonging and a positive learning environment through cultural motifs, artworks, posters and wayfinding that make all students feel welcome.

“Ultimately, it’s about breaking the mould of the existing education system and meeting students’ needs on their own learning terms. From students, through to teachers at the front line, as well as policy and cultural experts, they are all saying the same thing,” says Rushworth.

“Investing in underserved learning is a social investment in New Zealand’s future and is one of the most influential levers we have to improve the lives of thousands of New Zealanders.”

At MPTT, we’re proud to be part of this solution and to be bringing together others who share our vision and commitment.

You can access the report at UP Education’s website here. 

How to show you have a great attitude

If there’s one thing your boss wants you to bring to work from day one, it’s a great attitude. Your ‘A’ game! But how do you get one? For many of our trainees, it’s about taking an honest look at what they say and do – plus doing some simple things that show they’re keen to learn. Here, we look at practical ways to impress your boss and do well in the workplace.

Bringing a positive, motivated attitude to the mahi will not only help you get hired and score an apprenticeship, it can also help you get promoted in the future and get great references when you decide to change jobs. Your employer will see you are present at work and interested in the job.

MPTT navigator Hami Chapman works with tauira to help them get work-ready, which includes having the right attitude. He says improving your attitude means doing some thinking and being open to how you might need to change.

“As navigators, we often see subtle changes in our tauira’s attitude after we work with them. We encourage the tauira to look in a mirror to identify what needs changing, then work out what that change could look like. Sometimes it’s like seeing a lightbulb come on in their heads.”

To help show the importance of attitude, one exercise navigators do with tauira is to assign each letter of the alphabet a number (A = 1, B = 2, etc) and add up the value of the word ‘attitude’, says Hami.

“What they find is that the letter values add up to 100. We tell them, this is what employers want to see… 100% attitude.”

So what does it mean to have a great attitude, and how do you know if you have one? The bad news is, no one can do it for you – a good attitude comes from within. But the good news is, it’s simpler than you might think.


Show up

Whether it’s your interview or your first day on the job, the best way to get things off to a good start is to show up on time.

Mark Katterns, project director at Hawkins Construction, says showing up on time each day is the key to doing well in the trades industry.

“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.”

What to do

  • Aim to show up on site at least 10 minutes early, so you’re less likely to be late if something unexpected happens on the way, like traffic being worse than usual.

  • Don’t pack up early or be the first to leave every day. Keep working until it’s time to stop, and ask your boss if there’s anything that needs to be done before you leave. This shows you’re keen and wanting to do the work.

Ask questions

Your boss wants to see you’re motivated to learn, and one of the best ways to show that is to ask questions.
It can feel uncomfortable to put yourself out there and ask a question, but it’s worth the effort, says qualified mechanical engineer and MPTT graduate George Patterson.

“It was hard to put my hand up and say, ‘Can you please explain that and slow it down for me?’ That’s what you have to learn to do though.

“When things get hard, just ask. I feel like that’s a big thing for Pacific Islanders — we’re shy about asking questions, asking for help, speaking up. There’s never a dumb question. Always remember that you’re an apprentice and you’re still learning.”

George’s boss, Ian Norton, says having an employee who asks questions makes his job much easier, because then he knows if he needs to explain things further.

“The great thing with George is that if he doesn’t know something, he asks.”

What to do

  • When your boss is explaining something to you, try to come up with at least one question you can ask. Asking questions helps you learn more.

  • If you don’t know something, make sure you ask. This shows your boss they can trust you to speak up. Remember, your boss doesn’t expect you to know it all and they need to know if you don’t understand anything.

Take notes

It can be hard to remember everything your boss says. So, when they’re explaining how to do a job, try taking notes.

Dave Robb, Ritchies Murphy Transport Solutions workshop manager, says taking notes can help you stand out and shows you want to learn. This was what impressed him about Kamosi Finau and Puna Taruia, who came for work experience but ended up being offered apprenticeships.

“I brought in half a dozen students for an introduction to a real engineering worksite,” says Dave. “Some of the students were a bit cocky and some didn’t seem interested. But these two were writing things down and really taking notice.”

“It’s about attitude in this game — you don’t have to know anything, you just have to be really keen to learn.”

What to do

  • Get a small notepad and pen and keep them in your pocket at work. That way, you can take notes whenever your boss tells you something new, or whenever you think of something you want to learn more about.

Stay busy

Another great way to show your positive attitude is to volunteer for work you haven’t been asked to do.

So, when you’re on site and you finish a task, make sure you look for something else to keep you busy, says automotive apprentice Kamosi Finau.

“You can never stand there with your hands in your pockets. You’ve got to always be watching the tools and the ways of doing things.”

What to do

  • When you’re on site and you finish a task, don’t check your phone or stand there waiting for your boss to tell you what to do next – look around to see if anything needs tidying up or ask someone else on the team if they need help.
  • Think you know what might need to be done next? Ask your boss if they want you to get started. Making a suggestion is better than just asking what they want you to do – even if you get it wrong. It shows you’ve thought about what might need doing, rather than just waiting to be told what to do.

Keep on top of your bookwork

If you’re in an apprenticeship, it’s important to work on your theory regularly.

Employer Eddie Green, who oversaw mechanical engineering apprentice Toni Rhind’s work at Pacific Steel, says staying up to date with your bookwork is useful to your boss. It helps you to be a good team member at work.

“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.”

As an apprentice, George Patterson put off the theory work at first, but eventually found that keeping on top of his bookwork was much less stressful.

“Try not to leave things to the last minute, because that’s when you start panicking.”

What to do

  • Set aside time each week for theory work. Doing the work in smaller chunks is much easier and less stressful than trying to find time to do it all at once later on.

Keep your tools safe

A tradies tools are their most valuable possession
As a tradie, your tools are your most valuable possession – but they’re also a top target for thieves. Tool theft is on the rise in New Zealand, as a handful of our MPTT trainees have discovered. But, there are things you can do to protect your kit. Read on to find out some simple ways to keep your tools safe.

MPTT electrical trainee Vaine Wolfgramme learned first-hand why tradie’s insurance is so important when her tools were burgled from her sister’s house earlier this year.

“It was my Makita drill — an impact and a hammer and they were worth about $800. It was brand new. I’d only just got it. I hadn’t even had time to write my name on them.” 

Stolen along with her tools was Vaine’s Playstation 4 and her work safety gear. 

But luckily, Vaine was wise and had her tools insured before they were nicked. This meant she’s able to replace the tools she lost, without having to cover the full expense herself.

“I’m just waiting for the insurance company to give me the money so I can go and buy some new tools.”

Watch your back

To protect your livelihood, it’s important to get educated on tool theft and what you can do to prevent it. 

Remember, tools that are visible from the street are more likely to be stolen. So, it’s best not to keep tools in the back of your ute or hanging up on the garage wall.

It’s common for thieves to sit, wait, and watch for the perfect window to steal – so keep that in mind when you’re taking tools from one place to another. 

In Vaine’s case, she believes the thieves were watching her drop her tools off at her sister’s house after work, and took the opportunity to break in after she left.

“It was a rush job.”

If you normally leave your tools in your vehicle overnight, NZ Police suggest bringing them into your home each night instead.

If this isn’t an option, lock your tools in a secure box that’s hidden from view, or cover your tools with a blanket or tarpaulin to keep them out of sight.

Get it engraved

Another key way to keep your tools safe is to get your name engraved on them, says Vaine.  

“Some people mark or inscribe their tools — like, write all over them.”

Poster on how to protect your tools

Otherwise police might find a pile of stolen tools down the track, but if they’re not marked as yours, they won’t be able to get them back to you.

For the best chance of having your tools returned, NZ Police recommend engraving tools with your driver’s license number. 

You can find an engraving kit at The Warehouse or Mitre 10 for less than $50

If you don’t have one, you can get it done at a trophy engraving or key cutting store. 

Engraving is best because it can’t be scratched off or removed. But at the very least, be sure to mark your new tools with paint or a permanent marker in a unique and easily identifiable way. 

Make sure you’re covered

Insurance and police registration are failsafe ways to protect your tools.

Vaine Wolfgramme
Thanks to insurance, Vaine Wolfgramme will soon get her stolen tools replaced.

Fortunately for Vaine, her tools were insured when they were stolen so it was easy to replace them. To process her insurance claim, she had to provide the police report and the receipt for the stolen tools.

“I would say register your tools, because if you’ve done that and your tools get stolen, then you can probably get them back if the cops find them.” 

You can register your tool serial numbers online through the NZ Police SNAP website

It’s also a good idea to take photos of your receipts, in case the print on them fades. Make sure you store copies of the photos somewhere they’ll be easy to find later.

Tradies can also use security apps like Tool Protect. The app stores information about your tools and makes it easy to file police and insurance reports for stolen tools from your phone.

Vaine’s advice for trades students is to make sure you’re insured as you advance in your career, because of how expensive tools can be to replace.

“Once I get a Fluke Multifunction Tester, that’ll cost around $2000 on its own.”


Tool tips for tradies

Your tools are crucial to your trades career, so do what you can to keep them safe. Tool theft is common, but there are things you can do to avoid it. Here are some reminders: 

  • Engrave your tools with your name or licence number.
  • Get your tools insured. 
  • Register tool serial numbers with NZ Police.
  • Store tools in secure places out of sight. 
  • Be vigilant when moving your tools from place to place.

No trades experience? Here’s how to start

You can start learning about your trade in a classroom – but it’s hands-on experience that really builds your skills. Find out the best way to get some experience under your belt now, and help you land the job you want later.

To become a skilled tradie, you need time on the tools. But when you’re just starting out, how do you get an employer to take you on? Work experience can help you get your foot in the door and learn heaps about your trade – even if you’ve never worked as a tradie before.

What is work experience?

There are two main ways that work experience is different from a regular job, says Doug Leef, Kaitohutohu Ahumahi (Community Industry Advisor) for MPTT.

  • It’s only for a set amount of time (whatever you agree on with the employer).

“The expectation is not months of unpaid work but one or two days a week as time, study and employer requirements allow,” says Doug, who is also a qualified builder.

  • You usually won’t get paid. That means employers can afford to take a chance on new trainees who don’t have the experience it usually takes to get employed.

“Think of work experience as creating opportunities and discussions that didn’t exist before, and an investment in your future,” says Doug. “For example, the company I did unpaid work experience for gave me an apprenticeship, and 13 years later I owned the company!”

Why do work experience?

It’s essential to get practical experience in your trade, says Doug.

“Work experience is about getting out into the real world and seeing what life is going to be like post-study. It shows potential employers your commitment to your trade.”

Initially you may feel awkward or uncomfortable in a new space with different people, but experience is how you build your skills.

“Think of it as ‘try before you buy’ and remember that once your course finishes, you’re into the real world,” says Doug.

Here are some of the main benefits of work experience if you’re just starting out in your trade:
  • It’ll help you get a foot in the door, because it’s much less risky for an employer to take you on for work experience than to offer you a job contract straight away.

  • You’ll get to use what you’ve learned in the classroom, and you’ll learn heaps about life on the job.

  • You’ll get a trade job to add to your CV.

  • You can ask for a reference, for when you apply for a job later.

  • It’s a lot easier to get a job once you have some experience in your trade.

  • Once the employer gets to know you and sees you’re a hard worker, they might be keen to offer you paid work.

How to find work experience

It’s a good idea to start looking for work experience well before you finish your course.

“It comes down to the individual. But ideally, the earlier you start the better so you’re creating relationships and opportunities that will serve you well at the end of your course,” says Doug.

Try these ideas for finding work experience opportunities:
  • Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for work experience in your trade. You never know who might be able to help, and if an employer knows someone who knows you, they’ll be more likely to take you on.

  • If you know anyone who works in your trade, ask if they or their employer have any work experience opportunities.

  • MPTT has contacts throughout the trades industry, so ask your MPTT Navigator if they know of any work experience opportunities.

  • Try asking an employer directly. Let them know you like their company and would love to offer your skills. If you’re not sure which employers to ask, Doug recommends trying the tradies in your area first. “I alway suggest starting close to home to make life easier.” It takes guts to introduce yourself to an employer, but it shows you’re keen to learn and can really help you stand out. Even if they say ‘no’, they’ll appreciate your confidence and might suggest other employers for you to approach.

No matter how you go about finding work experience, it’s important to plan for that first conversation with your potential boss.

“Take time to research the company by looking at their website and customer reviews,” says Doug. “That will help you make an informed decision before approaching them about work experience.”

He also recommends talking to your MPTT navigator to help you prepare for discussions with an employer. They can let you know what to expect and give you tips on how to make a good impression.

And once you’re on site, remember employers want workers who are keen to learn – so don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t understand something.

“Most of all, ask questions if you’re unsure and keep yourself safe, because it’s a long road to retirement!”

Construction veteran’s colourful career

With more than five decades’ experience in construction, industry stalwart Ben Mckay still loves using his skills to help others. Find out how Ben’s trade has allowed him to be his own boss and taken him around the world, from Mangere to Myanmar.

Learning a trade has been life-changing for Ben Mckay. Since training as a builder back in the late 1960s through the Māori Trade Training Scheme, the 70-year-old’s practical skills have continued to open doors for him.

After getting his carpentry and joinery apprenticeship, Ben was able to take his trade overseas, including to the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Thailand, and Myanmar (Burma). 

This experience meant he could see the world while earning money and continuing to grow his skills – an option he says is still a great choice for young tradies.

“Look at the journey,” says Ben. “I didn’t know I was going to go overseas. Someone just approached me. They saw I’d been through the trades, and they asked if I’d like to go and work overseas. 

“I’ve never, ever paid for a passport in my life – and I’ve had four of them! Those opportunities still exist for the young ones today.” 

Ben, who was born in Wairoa, knew it was important to get qualified thanks to advice from his dad.

“I always remembered in the back of my mind that my dad said: ‘Get a real job — not a labouring job or making tea or something like that’.”

So, at 17 years old, Ben (Ngāti Kahungunu Ki Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Porou, Waikato) caught a train from Hastings to Wellington, to do his carpentry and joinery apprenticeship. 

He did his training through the Māori Trade Training Scheme, in which MPTT Auckland has its roots. The scheme saw thousands of Māori gain trade qualifications between 1959 and the mid-1980s, creating a generation of Māori leaders in the trades — a legacy MPTT is working to continue.

“Doing that training was a turning point for me,” says Ben. “There were 23 of us and we lived in the hostel together, learning plumb, square and level from our tutors.

“We lived, cried and did everything there together.”

After eight years in Wellington, Ben got married and eventually moved to Auckland for work.

“I was managing the trades training for Owens from their office in Ponsonby. They had two hostels here and I used to check what supplies and equipment they needed to be building houses.”

Later he worked for Fletcher Construction, where he managed the steel works in Mangere, and spent four years working for himself as a contractor. He also worked for Australian company Civil & Civic on multi-story buildings on Queen St, and even spent some time building sets for TV shows. 

Then in 1987, Fletcher invited Ben to go to the Solomon Islands to help build a secondary school. He stayed there until 1993, along with his wife and four children. 

“Every weekend I went fishing — I didn’t go to the pub. We caught everything up there, even snakes and crocodiles!

“We collected mushrooms, grew our own food, went crab hunting and did crab races — it was a good life.”

After working in several places in Asia and the Pacific, Ben returned to New Zealand and used his skills to work for himself. He started two businesses, one of which he still runs. 

A big benefit of being a qualified carpenter is you can build your own home, says Ben.

“Building your own home is a great way to get ahead. I’ve built homes for my brother, my brother-in-law, my cousins, and all over the world.” 

Having built everything from mega structures to humble abodes, Ben has always enjoyed using his skills to solve problems and help others. These days, he continues to give back to those in his community.

“Me and my son just went around to help this old lady — she’s 76. We spent three hours fixing up her stairs, using whatever timber we had. She asked us, ‘How much?’ I just said, ‘What do you mean?’

“I just like to help people who need help. It’s good to give back.”

Ben’s career has taken him far and wide. Here, he’s seen working on a project in Niue, for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 

Māori and Pasifika Trades students are always part of the whānau, even after graduation. As one of our alumni, we’ll let you know about industry news and job offers and give you ongoing access to a supportive network in the trades. Make sure you follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay connected.

Our whānau is growing

It was exciting to see some of our latest intake of future tradies gather together this month, after MPTT’s group events had been delayed due to Covid-19. 

Check out these photos of Unitec’s Whanaungatanga Day, where new trainees were welcomed to the whānau and awarded their scholarship certificates and MPTT shirts. 

Thriving in the trades:
three tauira on the rise

Easter Isara – Furniture and Cabinet Maker, Artiture Joinery
MPTT Auckland is now five years old, which means more and more of our tauira (trainees) are getting qualified and making their mark on the workforce. To kick off a new year and a new decade, we caught up with three MPTT tauira to find out what they’re up to now. Be inspired by where their trade has already taken them, plus find out what their goals are for 2020 and how learning a trade has given them more options in life.
Chris Lautua
Apprenticeship Coordinator, The Electrical Training Company (ETCO)
When we last interviewed Chris Lautua back in 2016, he’d recently finished his pre-trades electrical course at MIT and landed an apprenticeship. The 33-year-old has now found a way to combine his love of electrical with his passion for helping others.


Chris Latua (left) when he was working as an apprentice in 2016

What are you doing now?

I started my electrical apprenticeship with Dickson Gray Electrical, where I focused on commercial and industrial projects, and finished it with Shaolin Electrical. While I enjoyed my time at Dickson Gray, I went to help a friend in his business (Shaolin Electrical) while learning the residential scene of the industry. This had many enjoyable challenges, and I finished my apprenticeship and became a registered sparky this year.

I’ve recently taken on the role of Apprenticeship Coordinator at The Electrical Training Company (ETCO). I originally wanted to travel for a bit after my registration, but this opportunity to work with young people while still being in the industry was an opportunity too good to turn down.

So, the travel plans have been cut shorter (my wife and I took a trip to Europe in December/January). However, I’m loving the opportunity to help other people in the trade. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the hands-on work, but helping others is always where my heart has been.

What are your goals for 2020?

I want to make more specific goals for health, home, work and life, so that I’m working towards something in every aspect of my life.

What do you love about having a trades career?

The trades is something you can take and do anywhere in the world. So, whatever plans pop up for me and my wife, I know I have a few things in my kitty I can rely on.

Comment from Chris’s employer, Brad Hepi, ETCO Northern Regional Manager:

Chris is a valued member of our team. He brings a lot of energy and has a great relationship with the youth of today. He comes from a place they’re just entering into. He’s been where they are now, and he’s come out the other side. He can relate to them and inspire them that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

“Chris is a live example of where you can get to. He did his time and he’s enjoying the benefits. He’s just come back from a world trip and that’s been possible for him financially because he got his qualification. If you do the mahi, you get the treats.”

Chris and his wife recently took a trip to Europe, visiting famous sights like the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Easter Isara
Furniture and Cabinet Maker, Artiture Joinery
Easter Isara, 28, has thrown herself into the trades with 100% commitment — and it’s paying off. Since studying Furniture and Cabinet Making (Level 4) at Unitec in 2016 (when she also joined an MPTT Auckland team building cyclone-resistant homes for low-income families in Fiji), Easter has set herself on a course to a successful career with heaps of opportunities.


Easter may have finished her apprenticeship, but she’s hungry to keep developing her skills.

What are you doing now?

I finished my Furniture and Cabinet Making course at Unitec in 2016. A week later, I landed myself a job at Artiture Joinery on the North Shore and I’ve been here ever since. I managed to finish my apprenticeship in two years and three months, and I got my qualification in August 2019. I have absolutely no regrets getting into a trade and I’ve been lucky enough to have met and worked alongside some awesome and supportive people at my job.

What are your goals for 2020?

I want to develop my skills some more. There’s always so much more to learn even when you think you’ve learnt it all. I’ve always dreamt of travelling around New Zealand and the world, and next year I definitely want to start. Getting my qualifications sorted was definitely the most important thing for me and, now it’s done, I can focus on spending more time with my family and friends. Taking on a mortgage for a house is also something I want to look at next year.

What do you love about having a trades career?

By going into the trades, I’ve gained a job that lets me work with my hands and challenges me every day.

Each day being a tradie is never the same and it’s never boring. I traded up from a job that pays minimum wage, no matter how much effort you put in it, to a job that pays me well. It gets better with every skill I learn and every effort I put in.

Comment from Easter’s employer, Taryn Leathem, Artiture Joinery General Manager – Operations:

Prior to starting with us, Easter had completed a Furniture & Cabinet Making course at Unitec, which was a great lead into her position with us. It enabled her to progress through her apprenticeship quite quickly. At Artiture, our team and culture is really important to us and Easter has really brought into that.

Commercial shopfitting can be really hard work. We often need to work longer hours than usual and Easter’s the first person to put her hand up and say ‘Yep, I’m here’. I can always count on Easter; she’s incredibly reliable and an important member of our team. She’s fully qualified now and has picked up some great skills along the way.

“I’m really proud of what she’s achieved and, moving forward, her skills will continue to grow. Easter’s career path through joinery can take her anywhere.”

Toni Rhind
Mechanical Engineering Apprentice, KiwiRail
Toni Rhind, 28, completed her pre-trades course at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2018. She’s gone from strength to strength, being recognised for her excellent mahi by winning NZ Steel Apprentice of the Year in 2019. We spoke to Toni a year ago, and caught up with her again recently to ask a few questions.


Toni Rhind
Toni has her sights set on finishing her apprenticeship as soon as possible.

What are you doing now?

I’m doing my Mechanical Engineering (Level 4) qualification with KiwiRail. I recently finished working with Pacific Steel. At KiwiRail, I’ve had to learn new skills but I thoroughly enjoy and love working with a supportive team of blokes who are able to teach me the ropes and allow me to further my knowledge within this industry.

What are your goals for 2020?

My goals for 2020 would definitely have to be to smash out the theory side of my apprenticeship by April 2020. Although I’d love to finish my apprenticeship, I still have a few more hours I will need to complete, which may take a year and a bit.

What do you love about having a trades career?

I’ve traded up to a job that is constantly challenging me mentally and physically.

I love challenging myself and proving that I can do what men can do as well.

Being able to have more opportunities and more career choices within a trade qualification is something you’ll always see in the trades.

How to deal with setbacks

Learning a trade takes hard work, and you’ll need to overcome obstacles to get there. That’s why it’s important to be able to bounce back when things don’t go to plan. MPTT trainee Stevi’Lee Furness has had her share of setbacks, but that hasn’t stopped her moving forward. Find out how the mechanical engineering trainee and single mum has overcome having her studies interrupted by pregnancy, and the challenges of getting her career started while raising her son.

When Stevi’Lee Furness began learning a trade, life threw her a curveball.

She was a top student in her welding and fabrication course at Unitec, but had to pull out just weeks before the end of the programme because she was 8 ½ months pregnant.

“It was frustrating not being able to finish. At that point, I’d worked so hard, and then it was a full-stop. But I was so glad I did the course anyway. I was happy to be keeping myself busy and applying myself, looking forward to a better future.”

Despite the setback in her training, Stevi’Lee chose to focus on the positives.

“I acknowledged that this was me moving on to the next step, which was motherhood. Going through that awesome part of my life, too. But I still had this drive that my child needs a reliable, dependable mother who can support him. I had to figure out a way to make good money and love my job,” she says.

“Having a baby gave me that extra drive. I was thinking, ‘You’ve got to do this – your child depends on your education and future jobs’.”

After having her son Caezar (now two years old), Stevi’Lee was back in full-time study five months later. Unitec had made changes to its curriculum in the meantime, so her welding and fabrication training was now part of a mechanical engineering course, which she completed in June 2019.

Her MPTT Navigator, Tu Nu’uali’itia, says Stevi’Lee’s motivation to return to study is an inspiration for other trainees who face obstacles.

“Her greatest quality is resilience – the ability to bounce back from a challenge in her journey to achieving her goal. She’s a real inspiration for single mums who are doing it tough, because of the future she wants for herself and her baby.”

Stevi'Lee with her navigator Tu Nu’ualitia
Tu Nu’ualitia, left, supported Stevi’Lee through her challenges and believes she is an inspiration to other taiura.

Mother nature

When Stevi’Lee first returned to study, she had support from her mum to care for Caezar.

“He stayed with my mum for the days and nights I was studying. It was painful. I spent so much time away from my child. I didn’t have a vehicle yet either, so it was really annoying because I couldn’t pick him up and drop him off.”

It was a struggle to be away from Caezar, she says.

“It sucks to sacrifice that time with him. But at the same time, sometimes you’ve just got to do it. In my position, I’m mum and dad. I’ve got to be the bread-winner and the caregiver.

“I sacrificed so much time with my child, but at the same time, it drove me to keep doing it. Because I can be there for my child but I’m useless if I can’t support him financially in his future. I think I balanced it well, and here I am, finished.”

After having Caezar, Stevi’Lee lived with her mum for the first few months and then moved into her own place.

The 25-year-old is grateful for the support from her mum, which helped her return to study and get her mechanical engineering certificate.

“You do need good support to raise a child while studying or working full time. It just depends how badly you want it. Some mums won’t want to, and that’s okay. It does make a lot of sense having that support – it really helped me.”

Foundational support

As an MPTT trainee, Stevi’Lee also received support through a scholarship and one-on-one mentoring.

“It was honestly so helpful. Plus, it was really cool to go around and say, ‘Guess what? I got a scholarship’,” she says.

Being awarded the scholarship added to her motivation to study and work hard.

“The scholarship isn’t just free money; it’s an incentive because it’s telling you that you’re worth it. Because that’s exactly what it meant to me. Apart from having less of a student loan, a scholarship is something people get from doing really well, and you get picked out of a certain few.

“Being offered that scholarship through MPTT, man, that was awesome. It made me feel really good. Everybody should feel like that.”

The personal support offered by her MPTT Navigator was also valuable.

“I love Tu – he’s awesome. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He’s straight forward. He doesn’t make false promises and he makes it clear that you have to work for it.”

Driving ambition

Having finished her pre-trade course, Stevi’Lee has faced another obstacle – not having her own transport.

“I’m looking for a job in mechanical engineering, but I’ve needed a car. I’ve had people like my lecturer say, ‘Look, I can refer you on to an employer, but you need to be able to get all the way out to Mt Wellington’. So, I told myself, I really need a car and there’s no other way around it. So I just went and got a part-time job so I could save up for that. I’ve now bought my car, so progress is coming to fruition in my trades journey.

Stevi'Lee Furness
Stevi’Lee has her sights set on becoming a project manager one day, and providing the best possible future for her son.

“Right now I’m working at a local bar, even though I’m not qualified for hospo. But I worked my butt off and proved I can do it. I was quite fortunate to get that job, and it’s close to home. It’s just the next step in putting myself into that mechanical engineering job.

“I would love to do my apprenticeship, and I’m hopeful I can get into project management one day.”

Tu says it’s great to see a young MPTT trainee aiming for a leadership position in the trades.

“It would be a really positive outcome if she did go down that path, because it’s actually leaping forward in her career and showing a lot of ambition. The trades sector needs many more people who believe in their own value and worth to excel and become leaders in the workplace.

“Importantly, our Māori and Pacific people need to see examples of tauira like Stevi’Lee excelling, to be inspired in their own life aspirations.”

Stevi-Lee says it’s important to stay positive when you face setbacks in your training.

“Accept the curve ball. Don’t think that because you’re here right now, you can’t be somewhere else in the future.

“Don’t get disheartened when you come to a road block. It just means you have to figure out a new way around. Where there’s a will there’s a way. You just have to get through whatever the situation is.

“You have to keep looking out for opportunities and don’t give up.”

Mitre 10 Trade Keynote Award Winner Announced

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

How to make your money last

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.

Find out the key tips our trainees learned, and how you can use them to make the most of your money.

1. Sort out your needs and your wants

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.”

 

Jackline Lovo
Jackline Lovo has started a savings account for her family after attending the course

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.

 

Kamilo Kaitapu
Kamilo Joe Kaitapu learned how to spend on his needs, rather than his wants

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.”

 

Tevita Latu
As part of the course, Tevita Latu learned to keep his savings in a separate account to help avoid spending it

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.

Your simple guide to becoming a certified tradie with MPTT

So you’ve started learning a trade – but what happens next? At MPTT, we’re here to guide you right through your journey to becoming certified. Once you finish your pre-trades course, we’ll be there to help you until you are fully qualified.

Check out this guide to see what support you’ll be getting as an MPTT trainee. How many steps have you completed so far? 

Watch the video or view our Kaiārahi (guide) below.

Or download a larger pdf at this link: Student Journey Map

MPTT Student Journey
MPTT Kaiarahi

‘We were chiefs – we’re a people of leaders’

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.”

Mark Katterns inspiring the new group of trainees for 2019 inside the Te Noho Kotahitanga Marae at Unitec

Team effort

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.”

Supporting more Māori and Pasifika women into the trades – at an MPTT celebration event in July 2018