Trades changing lives as more Māori up-skill for the rebuild

Trades changing lives as more Māori up-skill for the rebuild

Christchurch painter and decorator Tessa Gregory says enrolling in the He Toki ki te Rika (Māori trades training) programme at CPIT was one of the best decisions she has ever made.

Gregory will take her place at a Celebration of Success night on 11 December along with around 150 other graduates of the programme from various trades such as carpentry, welding and plasterboard.  

Before she heard about He toki, Tessa was working full time but looking for a new direction. Now she is completing an apprenticeship and planning to travel and work overseas.

He Toki is an iwi-led collaboration between Ngāi Tahu o Runānga, CPIT and Hawkins Construction that is changing lives as well as contributing more skilled workers to the rebuild of Christchurch.

“I was determined to make something of my life because I didn’t finish school and I didn’t finish CPIT’s Diploma in Māori, so my next goal was to get a trade and complete it and even if I can’t do anything else in life I can fall back on my trade,” Tessa said.

“I was nervous because I hadn’t seen many women around in the trade industry and I thought this could be different. It could be really different. But I was excited. I like being different and doing something different.”

He toki awards 2013 

After the 14 week programme and a further six weeks of work experience Tessa was offered an apprenticeship with Frame Consulting. “I was so happy. I had finally achieved something. I’m getting paid to learn.”

In two and half to three years, Gregory will be both qualified and experienced in painting and decorating for homes, commercial spaces and Earthquake Commission repair work.

Pastoral support for He toki students is comprehensive and continues when the students graduate and find employment. The focus is not just on getting a career but succeeding in leadership positions as Māori.

He Toki students learn their trade within a cultural context as part of a strong whānau, learning Te Reo, tikanga and haka and finding out about your whakapapa. Students also receive a Hawkins ‘Work Readiness Passport’ which is a checklist of practical skills to show employers.

“Most of us did pretty well. I think everyone got something out of that course. I’m really thankful to He Toki. It was perfect timing; it was one of the best decisions. I am just happy. I feel like I’m on the right path. If it wasn’t for He Toki I don’t know what I would be doing now.”

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