Photo credit: Cameron Pratt

Waru Pairama started his trades training by enrolling in a construction course. But having already worked in other industries, he quickly realised he was ready for employment in the trades. Here’s how Waru turned his organisational skills and proactive attitude into an apprenticeship, and how he plans to give back to his whānau and community.

For Waru Pairama, becoming a builder is about much more than just earning a living. The 21-year-old apprentice has a vision to make a difference in his community, especially among the youth.

“In the future, I’d like to give back to my iwi and my community. You see a lot of young people now not going down the right track, getting into drugs, gangs, that kind of thing. I’d like to be an example for them, whether it’s going into schools or to a marae. I want to show them what you can achieve by learning a trade,” says Waru.

“I also want to give back to all my whānau that have been involved in my life and show that all the time and support they put into me wasn’t a waste. I’ll make them proud through my mahi.”

Ticking the boxes

Waru, whose iwi includes Ngāti Maniapoto, Tainui and Ngāti Whātua, had spent six years in Australia playing rugby league and working odd jobs. He returned home to Aotearoa in late 2016 to be closer to his whānau and focus on his career.


MPTT Scholarship Awards
Waru is awarded his MPTT scholarship early in 2017

In February this year he began a Certificate in Construction Trades – Carpentry Level 3 at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), and was awarded an MPTT scholarship. Early on in his course, Waru attended an MPTT event where he found out about the possibility of getting an apprenticeship – a job that includes the training required for a qualification.

By having solid work readiness skills, he managed to land an apprenticeship after just a few months.

“I think it was just, you know, being organised. I had my drivers licence, I had a car, I had good references – my manager and rugby league coach backed me and said I had a good attitude. It was about ticking all the boxes.”

Aiming high

MIT relationship manager Naomi Tito says she wasn’t surprised when Waru quickly found employment.

“He was extremely proactive in moving forward and securing an apprenticeship, and as a result was offered full-time employment with KB Construction. Within a month, the company offered him an apprenticeship.

“What impressed me with Waru is that he knows what his goals are. He is an example for his family and for many of his fellow students.”
Waru is currently focused on getting qualified through his apprenticeship, which is being managed by BCITO and is expected to be completed by 2020.

As well as working on his construction skills, Waru also attends Te Reo classes two nights a week. “I’m enjoying learning, and progressing slowly. It’s about getting back in touch with my Tikanga Māori.”

Hands-on experience

Waru says his upbringing showed him what hard work is all about, and he’s always enjoyed being outdoors.

“Growing up in New Zealand, I was on the marae around my whānau in the kitchen seeing them doing the mahi. That gave me an insight into practical hands-on mahi.

“Now that I’m working in construction, I love it. The senior builders really take the time to sit me down and run me through things. It’s fun being on the tools.”

He says having his fees paid for by MPTT, as well as support with finding employment, has been a huge help.

“It kicked me off really – MPTT was my support base. Naomi has been awesome. She helped me work out what direction I wanted to go to in terms of learning a trade. I didn’t really know what I needed to do, or what would put me in the best position to get the opportunity.”

Do you enjoy hands-on work like Waru? Find out more about a career in construction.

Waru Pairama (right) enjoys an MPTT event with his friend