Getting young Maori into trades

A group of Maori tradesmen, businessmen and educators are eyeing a chance to open two partnership schools in Taranaki.

Maunga Taranaki Energy, fronted by Eddie Prime, proposes to create training schools designed to offer a "leg up" to young people who are unable to break into a trade.

Mr Prime, the brother of the late Dalvanius, said that after years working in both the oil and gas sector and social services, he was tired of watching skilled workers migrate in and out of the province while some Taranaki youth were struggling to find a job.

"We want to accelerate Maori engagement, leadership and success in trades." He said too many Maori were "failing miserably at home, at school and at play" and they wanted an education system that offered strong, driven leaders who could show clear pathways into skilled jobs.

"There is no other system that I can see where we as Maori tradesmen and educators can make a significant contribution to building up the educational needs of our youth," he said.

The group launched a series of information seminars in Hawera last night and will hold hui in Patea, Opunake, Stratford, New Plymouth and Waitara over the next few weeks.

"We are looking for expressions of interest from tradesmen, educators and investors who have the same passion. The only way it will fail is if we let it fail."

He said while the two proposed academies based in New Plymouth and Hawera would focus on Maori youth between 15 and 18 years old, they would not discriminate.

"We want to be inclusive."

The move comes after the Government announced a new round of applications for partnership schools to open next year.

Applications close next month. The schools are Government-funded, but need private sponsors and can be run at a profit.

Those travelling down this route can set their own hours, curriculum and pay rates for teachers who do not have to be qualified.

The idea is not without controversy.

The Post Primary Teachers' Association has already signalled it will boycott a handful of Auckland and Northland schools due to open this year.

Taranaki Daily News