The Tai Tokerau Skills Centre +, Te Rua o Pūkenga has now been open for a week in NorthTec’s City Centre Learning Hub in Bank Street. From a rapid set up in response to projected job losses from COVID-19 in the region, the establishment partners are very happy with progress.
In the first week Te Rua o Pūkenga averaged 13 enquiries a day, receiving 43 walk in enquiries, 27 email enquiries from the website and 13 phone calls with 22 referrals to partners. Numbers are expected to grow as awareness increases throughout the region.
The collaborative effort between NorthTec, Work Ready, People Potential and North Chamber with the support of the Ministry of Social Development is seeing a gradual increase every day of people seeking out their services. The Tai Tokerau Skills Centre +, Te Rua o Pūkenga is not just the physical location in Whangarei’s CBD but also a virtual network throughout the region accessed through the website as a one-stop shop to help people back into training and employment.
“It’s great being in the city centre,” says Jesse Laurenson, the Tai Tokerau Skills Centre + Officer, “people are curious to see what’s going on and are keen to learn more. They can easily fit it into their day and if we can’t give the answers on the spot, we’ve got a fabulous team to refer back to for support and information. Everyone is buzzing about being able to help in a real way.”
Named by Matua Ross Smith, Pathway Manager for NorthTec Te Reo and Tikanga, Te Rua o Pūkenga comes from an ancient system of knowledge and reflecting on “rua” as the number two and balance. At the opening ceremony, Matua Ross described this as restoring the balance from the uncertainties and un-wellness of the lockdown period and our now openness and some restoration of certainty and wellness in the current environment.
“Rua” also talks to where kumara were stored and in moving forward our communities will store their skills so others can access the. “Rua” is also the wai rua, or spirits as we also build and strengthen our spirits damaged by COVID-19.
He also said “rua”, two, relates to our two arms, two legs, two eyes and two ears as the very things we will use to re-focus, learn new skills and build capability in Tai Tokerau. The name, Te Rua o Pūkenga, is based around carving where the art changes, shapes and designs the carver rather than the other way round.
This is what Tai Tokerau Skills Centre +, Te Rua o Pūkenga is all about. Helping the people of Northland to get back on their feet, to rebuild and go forward in this new environment whether that is updating a CV, finding out what training options are available, what support can be provided to new students and where to go for redundancy and business advice.