License to …earn

It just got a whole lot easier — and potentially cheaper — to get your driver’s licence. From this month, Waka Kotahi is scrapping retest fees for licences. And with only about half of people passing on their first attempt, this means a lot of savings for new drivers.

Lacking a driver’s licence is one of the biggest barriers to employment for many young Māori and Pasifika people.

Even if you’re not driving as part of your job, most employers want to know you can run errands to and from the site. Also, other licences, such as a forklift licence for warehouses, rely on you having your full licence first. It really does change your options.

The process starts with a theory test for your Learner licence, and there are plenty of resources to help you prepare and feel confident. You can read more about the process in our earlier blog

MPTT navigators are ready to support you in getting your licence as part of the scholarship’s Work Readiness programme. They’re always ready to give you advice on where to start. In some cases, MPTT will be able to provide you with financial help and our navigators can share ideas on how to prepare for the test. Our partners can often help, too. 

Latu Puloka leads OCA’s team of Navigators, who walk alongside students and their families, helping as needed.

He explains, “Our goal is to put them into employment once they graduate with us.

Reliable transport is one of the most important parts of their employment success. In fact, many roles require a full licence for you to apply.

Latu says getting a licence can be especially difficult for the young people he works with. To get your licence, you need to have access to a computer, resources and help to prepare, a car to practice in and somewhere safe and supportive to do it. OCA is taking care of all of this.

MPTT student from OCA working towards earning his drivers license in New Zealand

“We bring in specialists to develop a work plan to prepare each person for the first Learner’s test. They have a one-on-one session where they’re shown the website and how to practice the questions. 

“Each week, we check in on their progress. When they’re confident and ready, we take them to sit the test and cover the cost of it. If they miss out, we’ll get them ready and support them to re-sit.”

Once people have their learners, OCA keeps them on the road towards their practical test.

“We have someone come in with a car and give lessons – until they’re confident and ready to take the test for their restricted licence.” 

Latu says it’s a huge milestone for people when they get their restricted licence, but it’s gaining their full licence that takes them the whole way.

“Too many young people stop progressing once they get their restricted. But we really encourage our learners to get their full. That gives them much more freedom legally but also a whole lot more opportunity. 

“All classes of heavy vehicle licences rely on you having a full licence first. That’s why we keep helping people get to the next stage once they’ve done their restricted with us.”

With the fee changes from Waka Kotahi starting in October, now is a great time to prioritise your licence. For those tradies and trainees who are still to get their full licence, it’s worth putting it back on the radar.

Oceania Careers Academy celebrates heritage and futures

Oceania Careers Academy — OCA —  is on a mission to see more young Pacific people in sustained, higher-paid employment with skills sought after by industry. And it has a unique way of delivering this. OCA is run by Pasifika for Pasifika, so it connects with learners in a style that truly resonates. It means OCA trainees love learning about the trades and setting themselves up for the future, even when they face challenges along the way.  

Care and culture change everything

OCA specialises in training people for the construction industry because they see this as a way to grow prosperity in Pasifika families. They put family and Pasifika values at the heart of everything and wrap around each learner with the support they need.

Tony Atina, Campus Director, says one of the reasons he came to work at OCA is because of the pastoral support. Tony is of Samoan descent and was born and raised in Auckland. He worked in industry as a builder for 17 years, with his own business for 10 years. He has also worked extensively in training development. He says OCA’s approach is very different to what he’s come across before.

“I’ve seen the pastoral support label used elsewhere, but it can mean different things. At OCA, it starts with the family – family involvement – whānau ora assistance; it’s about the whole whānau.”

Our Navigators and tutors give both emotional and practical support. It’s vital we reduce barriers and impediments to our people succeeding, and transport is one of them. Getting to the course can be hard.

“Our Navigators provide transport solutions eg: sort out Hop cards and even leave a couple of hours early in the morning to collect students. Each day they’re out on the road to help people get to their courses. The chats that they have in the van can be quite personal, and that’s important.”

Salesi Vea is studying Level 3 Carpentry at OCA through an MPTT scholarship and is grateful for the support.

He says, “I had a rough patch of my life. I surrounded myself with the wrong people. I got a second chance with OCA. Over time I’ve come to like it – I love it here. The stuff that the tutors do for us is absolutely over the top.

You just know it’s a family; it’s not just a random group of people learning things individually; we are all here as a team and helping each other.”

Flexibility helps overcome barriers

Helping Pasifika students manage their commitments and overcome barriers to studies is top of mind at OCA. Along with pastoral care, they also ensure flexibility in the programme. Tony explains, 

“Not all students can attend a course every day – childcare, shift work etc., can make it difficult. For us, it’s about allowing flexibility but being mindful that there is a programme to complete.”

“Blended learning means people can work but cross reference what they’re doing back into the programme – so if they’re covering things in their work, it can contribute to practical exercises. Tutors can come on-site to do learning assessments. The additional option is that learners can come after hours to do catch-ups.”

Similarly, the tutors ensure that they deliver content and learning so that it’s easy to understand and engages people.

Folototo Peni Motunuu has come from Samoa to complete her Level 3 in Carpentry. She says, “I really enjoyed learning how to make a chair and a toolbox.”

Folototo said she’s grateful for all the help her tutors have given her, and she’s found friends there who support her too.

Praetorian Parkinson, Ngāti Paoa and Ngāpuhi, is also completing his pre-trades Level 3 in Carpentry at Oceania Career Academy and says the teaching style makes a difference.

“I like the way they don’t just bark orders. If you don’t understand something, you can just ask for clarification. You don’t have to sit there and try to figure it out yourself only to fail and have to do it all over again.”

Cultural values lead

As well as going the extra mile for its ākonga, OCA embeds Māori and Pasifika traditions and values.

Tony explains, “We start each day with a prayer and a toolbox meeting. This sets the scene for the day, and it carries into the classroom. We also have mentors around to welcome people and check in where they need it.

“Sometimes people have things going on in their lives before they reach the course in the morning, and this way, someone is there to help them with anything they may need.”

Prae says this care makes a huge difference.

They care about your culture, Māori, or Pasifika. They want to help you and push you through to where you want to be in life.”

Praetorian Parkinson

Salesi says that along with the main trades content, they have lots of opportunities to develop their values and understand their place in the world.

“On Wednesdays, we have the navigation programme. We just started a new leadership piece, which is about self-leadership and what it takes to become a leader on and off the worksite.”

The stats show success

The power of nurturing culture shows as OCA graduates flourish. Since 2015, more than 300 students have successfully completed OCA programmes, and of those, 71% are now working in the industry, and 17% have gone on to higher-level studies.

Harris Laulu, who is a proud Samoan is also studying Level 3 Carpentry. He says it’s about making the most of what OCA offers. “My advice is to make the most of the support.

If you’re studying on the MPTT scholarship, take all the help you can get because it’s coming from people that really want to help you – genuinely.

Salesi agrees and is excited about his future. “If everything goes to plan, I see myself running my own job site”.

“If you’re really driven, just go for it. Take that opportunity.”

Graduation is another step forward

OCA is setting its students up to thrive. Once they complete their pre-trades, their stories are o only just getting started. Finding apprenticeships unlocks a whole new realm of possibilities.

When trainees graduate, there’s a huge flow on effect. MPTT ensures they have a tool kit, making the transition to employment easier. And when they get into work and become qualified, the real change happens. They can contribute to their families and society. They learn how to become self-employed businesspeople; they build financial literacy and capability,” explains Tony. He’s proud that OCA empowers them to do this.

Tony is excited about how OCA is responding to the changing working environment while also keeping its unique and powerful mix of support for learners.

“We’re ensuring that the organisation continuously evolves its approach while retaining the values of what we have. Our training keeps work-based learning at its heart, and we make good changes that are relevant to industry so they can gain relevant skills that they’ll need.

Harris sums up, “By learning the trades, you get to feel free because it’s going to be a good future, and you can use your skills to help other people.”

Electricians Amped for the Future

Matty and Percy have set themselves up for bright futures by training as electricians. They say that the mix of theory and on-the-job learning is both challenging and satisfying. But learning from those experienced in the industry is teaching them valuable tips. The pair are already able to help out their whānau with their new skills.

MPTT helped the two take up trades training

Percy King, Te Arawa, knew he’d need something to fall back on when his professional sporting career came to an end. Being an electrician was the trade that had always appealed most to him. Getting a scholarship through Māori and Pasifika Trades Training helped seal the deal.

“Although an electrician’s apprenticeship is one of the harder ones, it’s worth it for me,” he says.

“I’ll be the first sparky in the family and in the community. So a lot of my family that have homes can call me so they can get stuff done such as power outages.”

Percy King, electrical apprentice
Percy King, electrical apprentice

Matty also wanted to get into a trade somehow, and he heard about MPTT’s support for Māori and Pasifika learners. A scholarship covered his fees, and when he started studying his pre-trade, he realised electrical work was something he was genuinely interested in.

“It was a one-year pre-trade course at Manukau Institute of Technology: Electrical Engineering Theory Level 3. The benefit is that you do a lot of the theory upfront, so when you get into your apprenticeship you start further ahead.”

Help starting in work

When they completed their study, MPTT helped them get ready to earn. MPTT offers workshops and skills for things like job searches and cover letters. These graduates have both found great apprenticeships to start as soon as they finished their pre-trade course.  Percy is working with JB Electrical and Matty with Laser Electrical.

“MPTT gave me a tools grant, so I had what I needed to get started. It made such a difference right away – especially having my own set of power tools to take to the job,” explains Percy.

Putting theory into practice was powerful

Both Percy and Matty found that taking up the tools allowed them to connect everything they’d learned. But there are plenty of tricks they’re learning from the more experienced tradies.

Percy, who is in his second year with MB Electrical says even things that seemed quite straightforward make so much more sense on the job. “Knowing about testing and fault finding… it’s just so important. And it’s worth perfecting the basics early such as stripping cable and running cable.

He says he’s had good advice from mentors in his apprenticeship.

“I was told, don’t worry about speed at the start; the main thing is getting it right. I’d rather you be slow and right than fast and wrong. Don’t feel pressured to rush.”

Matty agrees. And he’s found that in his apprenticeship with Laser Electrical, you never stop learning.

“When you start, you can think a certain way, but if you’re open-minded, willing to learn and just take stuff on board you can build your skills a lot faster.

“The experienced ones have always got some way to sort things. If there’s any problem, they can show you a technique new technique or trick.”

Once Matty and Percy complete their apprenticeships, they’ll be fully qualified by ETCO and can eventually set up their own businesses. But both are keen to spend the next few years learning and getting experience with different types of work.

“What I’m doing at the moment is new builds, which are quite straightforward. You’re pretty much just making holes in the house frames and then running out cables. When you go to like houses that already built, and you need to start with fault-finding, it’s a different story,” says Matty.

I’m looking to jump to more maintenance work now for a bit of that experience, and then I’d also like to do a commercial project for that experience.

I feel like you need to be able to come across anything and be confident that you can kind of deal with it.”

As well as being excited about their career prospects, these apprentices value the sense of purpose and value. They say MPTT has played a big part in this.

When we started at MIT, Makahn Warren-Chapman, an MPTT navigator introduced herself. There was a waananga where we talked about belonging and how a trade would enable us to give back to our communities and whānau, explains Percy.

The two recommend their profession to others and have some practical advice.

Percy says, “If you’re doing a pre-trade for three days a week, spend your other days looking for work rather than having a four-day weekend. If you’re working while you study, you get to apply what you’re learning immediately and put it into context.

Matty says, “Being like there’s a lot of people in this industry that have a lot of experience; it’s great to learn from them.”

No images of Matty were available at the time of publishing.

MPTT Navigators help students reach their destination

Makahn with some of her MPTT students
All MPTT students have the support of an MPTT navigator, which not only sets our programme apart but also sets MPTT students apart when they start work. Our Navigators mentor students every step of the way through their studies so they graduate work-ready and poised to thrive.

We spoke with Navigator Makahn Warren-Chapman to hear more about what MPTT Navigators do. Makahn, who is Samoan, Māori (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Whakatōhea, Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāi Te Rangi) and Irish, loves what she does. She sees her work as a way to give back to her community in South Auckland, helping people build new futures for themselves.

“In a nutshell, I hold a mentor role for students who are studying to become tradespeople. I’m here to ensure that they’re ready to leave their studies work-ready and they can start their careers,” says Makahn.

“The scope of support that MPTT offers through Navigators like me is quite wide. We’re there for students when they first start their pre-trades training, through to when they graduate, as they seek employment and find a placement in their chosen trade. We give face-to-face support, one on one meetings, and group workshops.”

A major goal of MPTT is to nurture more Māori and Pasifika into leadership positions, and this means setting them up well from the beginning. It includes helping people build confidence and know how to perform at their best.

Navigators walk alongside students

Makahn says she and her team consider the whole journey so they can give the right support at the right time.

“We offer specific support at different times during people’s study. For example, in the first part of the year, we start by getting to know the MPTT ākonga, what their goals are, and how we can make that happen by building individual pathways.”

Navigators support ākonga to identify anything that might stand in the way of their progress so they can help them make a plan to get past any obstacles. This includes things such as getting a driver’s licence and arranging childcare.

“One of the things we have identified is that people might not know how to write an effective CV, so we’ve developed a workshop that can assist with this. We also offer workshops about how to manage job interviews.”

Navigators help find and fix

Navigators are ready to advocate for ākonga in whatever way matters most.

“Sometimes people struggle just to put food on the table. So, we can connect them to food banks or food parcels.” Makahn says she’s also helped students understand what support options they might have for things such as devices.

“There are a few schemes that can help students with devices. We support ākonga to get their application for those and fill them out. We also help push their applications forward. We know that a lot of the time, our Māori and Pasifika students are kind of left on the outskirts and don’t know how to advocate for themselves. So, we do a lot of that.”

There’s one piece of advice she gives to every Māori and Pasifika student.

“Don’t be scared to ask for the support that you need. Some of us can be humble, and we tend to shy away from asking for help. But that help is available. And not only that, but providing support to MPTT students is our whole purpose as Navigators.

Makahn with other members of the MPTT Navigation team at a workshop held on Unitec’s campus

Plenty of pathways to explore

Makahn says an important part of her work is raising awareness of what potential pathways are available. Trades training can unlock a huge range of options.

“There are so many opportunities within the industry for Māori and Pasifika – more than people might realise.

“Some people have the idea that studying trades leads to only specific roles such as becoming a sparky or mechanic, but there are so many different pathways that open up. We work hard to help students gain awareness about all the career options training makes them eligible for.”

When students are ready to start work, the Navigators can help guide them through the process of gaining employment. Navigators act as a link between training institutes, students, and industry so they understand where job opportunities are and can help with placements.

Makahn says it’s important to consider the fit between the trainee and the employer. Navigators look at the culture of the workplace, what kind of support is offered, apprenticeship pathways and much more.

Once there’s a job offer, Navigators can help explain what it means. They can talk through how it might compare and expectations. This can give both ākonga and their whānau reassurance about their direction.

But the support doesn’t stop there. Navigators stay in touch as people settle into their positions, and graduates remain part of the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training community. There’s always useful information, opportunities, development and help on hand.  

Adventure awaits the ambitious

“One of the things I’d like for Māori and Pasifika people to know is that there is just so much out there. If they’re willing to do a little digging to create networks with others and maybe even step out of their comfort zone, they’ll find the opportunities they want.

“As a profession, the trades are evolving so quickly, and there are so many different roles and responsibilities within each area. It’s not an industry that’s stagnant – it’s always growing.”

And that’s why Makahn wants to see more trainees join the MPTT programme, to help them gain a qualification and build a career that will give them a stable and rewarding future.

Collaboration supports Māori and Pasifika success

Whakairohia he toki, tāraia te anamata
Learning with purpose, creating our futures.
At MPTT, we know that collaboration and leadership are vital to ensuring our people can thrive.  It’s heartening to see our kaupapa resonate across the sector, with Māori and Pasifika advocates increasingly recognised for the value they bring. To help our people become work-ready, and get set up to thrive in the trades, support at every level is important. 

At Te Pukenga, former ITOs have come together as Work Based Learning organisations. Sonya Bishara is Director – Partnerships and Equity at Te Pukenga. Working within the Construction WBL (BCITO) are Jacquie-Anne Heta, Principal Adviser Māori and Therese Fatu, Principal Adviser Pasifika. 

At Competenz, David Walding has been appointed to the pivotal role of GM Operational Transformation. Part of his portfolio is to ensure Māori and Pasifika learners and apprentices remain the focus of Competenz operations, especially in manufacturing and engineering. David is supported by Helen Taimarangai (Pacific Lead) and Reg Currin (Trades Careers Advisor), who is also focused on Māori achievement.

At Connexis, Vanessa Veart-Smith is the Māori and Pacific Lead covering Infrastructure.

Our partners are also playing their part

In addition to the WBLs, MPTTs other training partners are also doing what they can to support the success of our Māori and Pasifika students. They include:

  • Mita Tupaea, Kaiārahi – Te Ao Māori, Skills Consulting Group
  • Manu Palelei, Strategic Business & Performance Manager & Chief Advisor Pasifika, Skills Consulting Group
  • Vau Atonio, Trades Campus Manager NZMA
  • Kim Roe-Herewini, Academic Administration and Operations Coordinator, OCA

At Etco, the Electrical Training Company, Janice Smith, CFO and Nadia Tuítahi, GM of Academic Operations, are offering training, mentoring and employment opportunities to Māori and Pasifika apprentices. Together with their ‘host’ electrical businesses, they’re helping to increase the number of quality electrical practitioners.

Etco has a mentoring team of electricians and trainers, including former MPTT graduate Chris Luatua.

He’s among those who give ongoing mentoring to tauira to help them meet the qualifying standards. As of October 2022, they will also be giving support to apprentices currently managed by the Skills Consulting Group.

More industry collaboration means more support

From the beginning, our collaborative model has included working with trades employers across the trades sectors. We work closely with major companies and their sub-contracted companies to negotiate onsite training, employment and continued pastoral support to Māori and Pacifika tradies. 

The persistence and dedication of everyone in the wider MPTT whānau ensures our kaupapa of collaboration and care continues to spread. And better support for Māori and Pasifika so more of us can thrive – ka rawe. 

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. 

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!”

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

Auckland trades trainees get more than just free fees

Tuesday, 20 November 2018, 10:05 am
Press Release: Maori and Pasifika Trades Training

Together we’ve helped more than 2300 Māori and Pasifika Aucklanders start their trades careers – but we can’t stop now. As you know there’s an urgent need for more qualified tradespeople, with a shortage of 30,000 skilled employees in New Zealand’s building and construction industry alone.

To help get the message out about our scholarships, we have created a press release supported by a social media campaign and video. We encourage you to share these with your audience and networks.

You can find our press release here.