Beneficiaries hired for Christchurch rebuild

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 15:36 08/08/2012
paula bennett
STACY SQUIRES

REBUILDING LIVES: Social Development Minister Paula Bennett visits youth hired for the Canterbury rebuild today.

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Two Christchurch construction companies are hiring beneficiaries for the city's rebuild.

Fletcher Building and Hawkins Construction have embedded Work and Income staff members to help recruit unemployed youth for jobs in the rebuild.

The two companies have assisted 86 unemployed Cantabrians into work.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett visited a Hawkins Construction site today and met four workers who had been employed through the Work and Income scheme and a Maori trade training scheme.

One of the workers, apprentice Jesse Neville, 19, said he had been trying to secure a job for four years.

He had been on a benefit for 12 months before Work and Income gave him the chance to get an apprenticeship with Hawkins Construction.

Although life was "easier being on the dole, it's less boring working", he said.

When he was on a benefit he would usually wake up at noon and play Xbox for the afternoon, but now he was "way more motivated".

Neville had applied for about 30 jobs to no avail and said that if the apprenticeship opportunity had not been offered to him, he would still be on the benefit.

He has been employed since October and said most of his wages had gone towards paying off bills, but he was planning to start saving and go travelling in a few years.

"I never wanted a desk job; I wanted to be doing something. No offence, but I do prefer to actually work," he joked with Bennett.

Another worker had been employed at Hawkins Construction through He Toki ki te Rika, a collaborative Maori trade training scheme with Ngai Tahu, the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology and Hawkins.

Patrick Kohu, 51, decided he needed to "make a change" in his life after he was released from prison, and he had chosen to get involved with the programme.

"It offers a sense of belonging and purpose, I suppose. It's about rebuilding my past," he said.

Fletcher Building is offering 19 cadetships to young Maori who want a career in construction, and that is being done in conjunction with Te Puni Kokiri.

Bennett said the new scheme was "really exciting" and she was "full of admiration" for the construction companies involved.

"Let's bring more [beneficiaries] through," she said.

Hawkins group national health and safety environmental manager Andrew Confait said the company was committed to the programme, and he did not understand why it had not happened earlier.

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- The Press

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