They came to the trades from different backgrounds: high school, office work and ambulance driving. But these three tauira (trainees) have one thing in common – a burning ambition to succeed. Find out why Christine, Marvin and Autalavou are learning a trade, what their goals are and how MPTT’s helping them get there.
Christine Swepson

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

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


  1. What attracted you to a career in the trades?
  2. I initially wanted to do carpentry because I was interested in architecture and I thought carpentry was close to that. At the time, I was working in sales at Mercury when this Connexis ad about women in trades popped up on our intranet. It showed something about electrical engineering and I thought that looked interesting. Then it was a toss-up between carpentry and electrical, and I think working at Mercury made me go to the electrical side. I resigned to go and study.

    My background is in office work, so I’ve done a lot of non-physical work. But I had no experience at all in electrical work. I was so green when I came into it, and now my hands hurt from stripping cable! So it’s totally new to me.

  3. What are your goals?
  4. I’m going to start looking for an apprenticeship soon, for when I finish my course in November. I don’t want to leave it too late. I want to get my tools and everything first and put my CV into some places around about July. I’m excited about doing practical stuff every day because, right now, it’s a lot of theory.

    I definitely want to get qualified as soon as possible. I’ll stay and work in New Zealand for a bit and maybe possibly go to Australia – that might be my 10-year plan.

  5. How has the MPTT programme helped you?
  6. My MPPT navigator is Travis Fenton. He’s already helped me with doing a one-page CV. Coming from office work, my CV was a lot longer, so he’s helped me shorten it for what a company is looking for. And he’s also helped with my work profile, which goes to Skills and any possible employers. Having that one-on-one mentoring with him is so helpful.

    Marvin Solway

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

    Marvin Solway

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


    1. What attracted you to a career in the trades?
    2. I’ve always enjoyed doing hands-on things. I don’t really like just sitting down in the office all day, you know? Also, my dad’s a builder. He told me to do a trade but to do something different to him, because if you have three builders in the house and there’s not much work, then no one’s getting any money. I know there’s a shortage of workers in New Zealand. So there’ll be plenty of work and the pay’s good once you get qualified.

    3. What are your goals?

      I want to do an apprenticeship. I’d also like to own my own business one day but I’m not too worried about that now, because that’ll be 10 years away. I’m just taking it slowly, going one step at a time. Having my own business will be good because I can get more Māori and Pasifika into work. I want to help them out. I reckon that would help all of us out a lot.

    4. How has the MPTT programme helped you?
    5. The scholarship has been really helpful and Tu (MPTT Navigator Tu Nu’uali’itia) has been good too. He’s helped me out when I’ve needed it. I’ve always sort of known what direction I’m going in but I know other people might be a bit lost, and having the MPTT navigator there is handy for them. 

      Autalavou Tupuiliu

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

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


      1. What attracted you to a career in the trades?
      2. I’d already worked in carpentry in Niue for five years before moving to New Zealand earlier this year. The builder I was working with, Julio Atoa Talagi, was a graduate at Unitec who returned to Niue passionate to share his skills with the youth. I want to be exactly like Julio: graduate, get certified, live a little and then start my business.

        So, I ended up applying to Unitec and here I am! Back at home (in Niue), I was building residential and I reckon that, right now while studying, I am learning the theory behind the practical work I’ve done.

        I love building. It’s a passion for me. It’s amazing what you look at after you’ve built a house. I used to work as an ambulance officer in Niue for five years. It was amazing to help people but I felt I was meant to be doing more. So, I did building part time and I found out that the difference between these two professions is that you can never build a human body out of materials or bring someone back when they have passed on but you can always build a house and can always mend your house when it’s broken. That was enough for me to choose carpentry!

      3. What are your goals?
      4. To establish my own building business. I know what I have to do. That is why I really want to do well in building. I’m going to get an apprenticeship as soon as I finish the course and I will be a certified builder. After I become a certified builder, I will get established. I want to go all the way in this career path – I’m all in. 

      5. How has the MPTT programme helped you?
      6. Financially, it has helped my family and I a lot. I am grateful! I am also grateful that I’m able to learn and I don’t have anything to worry about later after I’ve completed my studies. 

        I heard about the scholarship when I got to New Zealand. There was word going around that there’s a scholarship for Māori and Pasifika students, and Tu (MPTT Navigator Tu Nu’uali’itia) explained it to me, so I went ahead and applied for it. I’m grateful for the programme. I reckon it’s a good thing.

        Tu’s always following up with our school work, talking to us every day we come to school and pushing us through. He’s really good – he’s always checking up on us, not only for school but also our stuff at home. I know he keeps us accountable.

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