Students step up as government endorses Māori trades training

A new group of He Toki ki te Rika (Māori trades training) students will step forward to start an exciting journey on Wednesday [15 May] in the presence of whānau and special guests at Rehua Marae.

The 68 students will receive scholarships to begin their training in carpentry, welding, painting and decorating, and plasterboard at CPIT’s Trades Innovation Institute.

He Toki is led by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu in partnership with CPIT and Hawkins Construction. This unique collaborative model leverages the existing knowledge, experience and expertise of partner organisations to upskill Māori for the recovery of Canterbury.

The model received a ringing endorsement from government last week along with the announcement of $43 million of funding for Māori and Pasifika Trades Training nationwide over the next four years.

“Ngai Tahu is taking an active role in readying local Māori to meet the skill demands of the Canterbury rebuild,” says Kaiwhakahaere (Chair) Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Tā Mark Solomon.

“We are proud of this programme and the success it has created so far. Government must be commended for their continued support and commitment to helping to develop the Māori workforce. More resource means more of our young Māori will have the opportunity to be trained and supported through to employment here in Canterbury.”

“What sets this initiative apart and makes it successful is the focus on cultural context and practical outcomes,” CPIT Kaiārahi Hana O’Regan said. “We are training people to be successful as Māori, to develop their te reo and tikanga and stand firm in their identity, and also learn the skills they need to contribute to the rebuild of Christchurch and to their own communities and families. This makes the programme essential not only for Māori, but for Canterbury’s development and for New Zealand’s future.”

The scholarships include full fee support, individual support from a Māori support team, help with work placement and an apprenticeship grant. The Work Readiness Passport developed with Hawkins Construction helps students develop the life and work skills that facilitate the transition to the workplace, helping them to know what is expected of them.

Hawkins South Island Regional Manager Steve Taw said, “Hawkins is a community-based organisation and this programme gives us an opportunity to support the local community and iwi for the regional rebuild. This in turn will provide the construction industry with a valuable potential labour pool and opportunities for people in our community.”

CPIT has a proud tradition of Māori trades training. Through the 1950s to the 1980s, thousands of Māori boys and girls from all over New Zealand moved to Christchurch to learn a trade.

The He Toki ki te Rika Scholarship Ceremony is at Rehua Marae, 79 Springfield Rd, Christchurch, on Wednesday 15 May from 5pm–8pm.