He toki trainee is Hawkins’ first female apprentice

He toki trainee is Hawkins’ first female apprentice

He Toki ki te Rika (Māori Trades Training) carpentry graduate Semiko Tallott-Stuart has elevated the status of women in construction after winning a major award and signing up as Hawkins' first female apprentice this week.

Tallott-Stuart was recognised on Wednesday night [9 December] at CPIT with the He Toki ki te Rika Supreme Award at the fourth annual graduation of students for the iwi-led programme, which is a partnership between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Tapuae o Rehua, CPIT and Hawkins.

Paul Rose, Hawkins Construction Manager, said Hawkins were delighted to recognise her performance by offering her an apprenticeship. "Semiko has worked for us as a trade assistant for a number of months and during this time she has proven she has the right attitude, commitment and dedication to do well in the construction industry. We look forward to watching Semikos' trade career develop and grow over the next few years as she progresses toward her dream of becoming a qualified  skilled tradesperson."

Carpentry is in the blood for Tallot-Stuart. Her father, who died last year, inspired the former office-worker's decision to start her carpentry course last year. "Dad wanted to be a builder. That's what pushed me to do it when he passed away. I got put off doing carpentry at school, but when Dad died, I decided I've got to do what I want to do."

More than 1200 Māori students have now graduated in a range of construction-related trade courses, including carpentry, plumbing, electrical engineering, painting and decorating and plasterboard. He Toki ki te Rika, as well as Pasifika Trades training, were launched after the earthquakes to train Māori and Pasifika for leadership positions in construction, particularly for the Canterbury rebuild. 

The programme has since been used as a model for Māori trades training programmes nationally and has grown to offer (apprenticeship programme) and a leadership pathways programme to take Māori into management roles.

Strong pastoral support and the partnership model, combining iwi, tertiary training and industry is a key to the success of He Toki. Tallott-Stuart follows in the footsteps of He Toki graduates Lio Tauanu'u and Amos Neate, who also completed work experience with Hawkins and were subsequently offered apprenticeships. All three worked together on Hawkins projects at CPIT including the new extension to VE Block and relocating the WHARE research house.

He Toki Apprenticeship Trust Manager Hemi Inia said; "we have placed 12 graduates into carpentry apprenticeships and will aim to place another 40 in the new year into carpentry, electrical, structural welding and plumbing. We are very keen to develop partnerships with other construction companies to help create business opportunities for the new year to support our vision to transform the lives of Māori and Pasifika whānau in Ōtautahi Christchurch".

In another first, the He toki awards ceremony this week was the first combined Māori and Pasifika trades training event. Tongan student Evander Fakahau was the Supreme Award for Pasifika Trades Training. The evening also saw the first South Canterbury-based He Toki training group in attendance, after the programme was offered in Timaru from 2 September this year.

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