Sarah Peraua had never thought about becoming a builder – until she watched The Block on TV. Inspired to start a new career, Sarah is now using her skills to give back to her family and community.

Before Sarah Peraua started training to be a carpenter, the young mum from Auckland had barely swung a hammer.
“I wasn’t really into woodwork at school and I didn’t find it interesting. I was more into sewing,” she says. 

That all changed one evening back in 2014 when Sarah, who was out of work at the time, happened to watch The Block on television.

“As soon as I saw The Block, I thought, ‘That looks cool!’ I was really interested in seeing how everything is built, how a house comes together.”

Getting started

Sarah, a Cook Islander, looked into doing a carpentry course and heard about the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training scholarships.

“I was so happy when I got one. It gave me that extra push to make sure I finish the course. Because I’m on a scholarship I don’t want to waste that money.”

She completed her Level 4 Certificate in Applied Technology at Unitec last year – but juggling motherhood and study wasn’t easy.

“It’s been challenging and a bit hectic at times. Learning to use powertools has also been quite difficult for me.”

Family first

Pushing her forward all the time is Sarah’s desire to provide her son Ronny, aged 5, with a stable future.

“I’m pretty driven to be a role model for my son. I’m going to have early mornings and late nights, but in the end it’ll all be worth it.”

Although her parents were a bit skeptical about their daughter entering a male-dominated industry, the difference in Sarah’s confidence and mood has been obvious.

“She seems to be a lot happier now. It’s a big change really,” says dad, Ora.

Looking ahead

Sarah also dreams of using her trade to benefit others in the future. She was part of a team of trainees that volunteered their time and skills to build a retaining wall at Onehunga Primary School last October.

“It’s really nice helping others,” she says.

Fired up to work in Auckland’s booming construction sector, Sarah is now waiting to be offered a three-year apprenticeship through BCITO.

“My goal is to be a qualified builder within the next five years or so.”

And does she dream of building her own house, like on The Block?

“Probably in the next 30 years, once I’ve gained enough experience!” she says.