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Source: Whitireia & WelTec

A group of 127 ākonga (students) gathered at Te Aroha Hutt Valley Association Building, Waiwhetū, Lower Hutt to celebrate the completion of their trades courses.

The ākonga are part of the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training Scholarship programme, and are supported by the Wellington Māori and Pasifika Consortium and the WelTec Tamaiti Whāngai team who provide pastoral, cultural and employment support.

At the celebration, each ākonga received a Certificate of Participation, as well as a set of tools, sponsored by AEG, to assist with their transition into employment.  

“When one succeeds, the whole whānau succeed,” Kura Moeahu, chairman of Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa, said at the event.

“Education contributes to people’s lives and makes change. It is my hope that our Māori and Pasifika youth continue on from graduating at this level to achieve a Bachelors, a Masters, and even a Doctorate.

“We have a big percentage of Māori and Pasifika achieving diplomas, but we need bigger numbers proceeding onwards to higher education. The more of us that are represented in the system, the more it will change to better respond to our needs. We need to increase Te Reo and Pacific language speakers in the education system, and particularly at the top. This will be the game changer.”    

Olivia Hall and Mark Oldershaw, executive directors of tumu whenua a-rohe 3 (region three) at Te Pūkenga attended and congratulated the ākonga.

“This is a great day of celebration,” said Mark. “For you as ākonga it is recognising all of the hard work you have done to achieve this, and I know many of you have already started work. For us it is a wonderful reminder of why we do what we do. We could not do this without our partners at Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Toa, Mafutaga our Pacific community leaders, and employers – thank you for your ongoing support as together we continue to educate, upskill and guide learners as they take up employment or further study in the region.”

Ailani Gatu is one of the students graduating as part of this cohort. Lani decided at the end of year 12 at St Mary’s College that she wanted to get hands-on training to enter the trades workforce. Lani enrolled in the Electrical Level 3 pre-trades certificate and has just graduated with an apprenticeship at an electrical company in Lower Hutt.

“At first my parents were not that happy about me leaving school, but when we went on campus to WelTec, met some of the tutors and heard I could get a scholarship, they were much more reassured, so I enrolled!

“My Dad has a floor sanding company so I have always been around the trades. I love that you can see the result of your hard work and perfection almost straight away. It is very satisfying. There is so much opportunity in the electrical sector and I would like to do more study, possibly in engineering.

“The tutors have been so supportive through my study at WelTec. This has made a huge difference to me. They helped me get my drivers licence, my work site safe accreditations, and an apprenticeship.

“My advice to any woman who wants to go into the trades would be this: No one is gonna build a better lifestyle for you than yourself. No one can do it for you. If you feel uncomfortable in situations because there are not many women in the trades, you just have to be resilient and eventually you will find comfort in the uncomfortable.”