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Source: NorthTec

NorthTec Kerikeri is honoured to have been given the chance to partner with Northland District Health Board (NDHB) to create a tiny home for a patient in need. The build provides a valuable learning experience for NorthTec students and safe, warm housing for the patient.

NorthTec will provide the labour and expertise to build the cabin from the ground up at their Kerikeri campus. Once completed, NDHB will purchase the tiny home at cost. NorthTec Kerikeri’s construction ākonga Bronson Tepania and Vincent Watkins who are undertaking the NZ Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Level 3) in Carpentry are responsible for the build under the guidance and skills of their tutors George Tzikoukos and Andy Cogar.

“George designed all the plans and has been working with the students to make the build as cost-effective as possible,” says Andy Cogar, NorthTec construction tutor. “It’s been a great way for the students to see the whole process of a build from start to finish, only on a smaller scale than your average build.”

Production was halted for a few weeks due to members of the team succumbing to the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with a break for the Easter holidays. However, the build continued in good spirits and the tiny home has begun to take shape. It is due to be completed by the end of June.

“It’s been a great learning opportunity,” says Bronson. “We’ve built the cabin from the ground up and learnt a lot along the way. Everything is new to us and because it’s just the two of us we get to learn how to do every step.”

The new home will be situated on the patients’ whānau land, giving the man a new home, in a safe place. He can have his own space, while still getting the support he needs from his family.

“It’s a really meaningful project,” says Vincent. “I had no idea there was funding for this kind of build. I’m really happy to be part of this kaupapa and be providing someone with a home. It’s going to be great for him to have his own space, somewhere he’s safe and happy.”

Both the NorthTec tutors and ākonga are keen to repeat the project, hoping to have next year’s construction students undertake a similar build for another person in need.

“It would be amazing to keep it going,” Bronson admits. “It gives you a real drive to get the build done and do it perfectly when you know it’s for someone in need.”

Both students are hoping to transition to apprenticeships in the building industry at the end of the year.

“The guys have been amazing; they have worked hard on the project and developed some great skills. This will serve them well for their future and they will be fantastic apprentices for whoever takes them on,” says George Tzikoukos.
“I could do this for a living,” Vincent confirms. “Building houses for people. Especially houses for people in need. It would be great to use those skills up here where people really need it. Help out family and friends.”

The project is a unique initiative that is new to NorthTec and the NDHB. However, the tertiary education provider is not new to community projects or collaborative builds. Whangārei construction students have been working with Sunshine Homes to produce cabins and help ease pressure on the trades market whilst painting students have been a part of community projects, providing free labour and gaining valuable experience in the industry.