Education to take root at Turuturu Mokai

Onsite Education tutor Bruce Findlay, Aroha Houston of Ngati Tupaia, Onsite Education tutor Trish Davidson and voluntary ...
Petra Finer

Onsite Education tutor Bruce Findlay, Aroha Houston of Ngati Tupaia, Onsite Education tutor Trish Davidson and voluntary clean-up project manager Milton Whareaitu.

Hosting a new training programme will bring new life to Hawera's Turuturu Mokai reserve.

The site, on Turuturu Rd, will host an horticultural training programme during the next 40 weeks.

It is expected that the move will benefit everyone involved because the volunteers working to clean up the historical reserve get an extra helping hand and students are able to learn in a natural environment.

ILP Education and Training director and tutor Bruce Findlay said supporting the clean-up effort felt like a natural progression.

"I've always come here and just wondered, sort of looked at it in awe. The history has been sad," he said.

"I shared exactly the same vision that Milton (Whareaitu) had, that it could be restored to its former glory."

Turuturu Mokai was left unkempt for years and Whareaitu has been working as a voluntary project manager to tame overgrowth and return the site to its former appearance.

Last year he unearthed a historic landfill, thought to date back to the 1940s or 1950s and toxic metals including lead, zinc, arsenic and copper have been found in the landfill soil.

Whareaitu has been working on a plan to deal with the landfill content safely.

Students enrolled in the NCEA horticulture level 3 programme would be completing practical education as well as some book work.

Findlay hoped that as well as practical education, learners would be able to absorb some of the site's history as well as a sense of ownership and belonging.

He said the area would make a "fabulous teaching resource" for children and young people.

Aroha Houston, Ngati Tupaia, said the relationship between ILP and those working on-site was a "great opportunity".

She has seen the outcomes of previous courses run by Findlay and opportunities these days were limited.

"I think it's a positive step that is going to be taken," she said.

"You will implant work ethics, knowledge, outcomes, a better future for the young because they haven't got that much in front of them."

She said having learners leave the course with qualifications that could help them into employment was exciting.

Whareaitu has been working to clean up the previously dis-used site for about two years and welcomes the extra hands, shovels and efforts.

"It's good to have groups from the community come in like this and take part in helping with the future of it," he said.

"Education is a good step in the right direction."

The course was expected to start in about three weeks. Anyone interested in signing up can contact Trish Davidson 027 324 4413.

 - Stuff

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