Suicidal, homeless youth says Christchuch apprenticeship turned life around

Amos Neate, 26, credits his Maori pre-trades training scheme with helping him find his way in life after years living on ...

Amos Neate, 26, credits his Maori pre-trades training scheme with helping him find his way in life after years living on the streets.

Depressed, drunk, stoned, and sleeping under bridges, Amos Neate felt completely alone.

Trespassed from home at 15, he hopped around mates' houses, before living on the streets of Christchurch for three years at age 20.

"I had my 21st on the streets. I missed my best years.

"Now, I'm left trying to catch up."

The 26-year-old, who spoke to Fairfax Media two years ago on beginning a Maori pre-trade training scheme with Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology [CPIT], now has eyes on climbing the ladder in his building career. It is the scheme, and his new employer, he thanks for that opportunity.

"I will never have to go in to [Work and Income] again."

After the September 2010 quake, and suffering long-term depression, Neate met a girl who convinced him to turn his life around. He discovered the He Toki ki te Rika apprenticeship scheme, which was established after the February 2011 earthquake.

"Before I knew it I was going to CPIT. That's where it all began."

When on the streets, "I knew I just had to hang in there".

"I had so much bad luck that I thought, 'Surely something good's got to happen for me'.

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"It's quite hard when you're under a bridge, you've got nothing, no-one there."

Neate was suicidal and started on cannabis, which made his depression worse.

"I was in such a dark place."

His 23-year-old self would have thought he was "dreaming" to see himself now.

"To have a job that I know is secure and have got good guys to work for, means everything."

Neate completes his building apprenticeship with Hawkins next year and hopes to climb the career ladder from there.

When he began, he was shocked to be told that only 20 per cent of Maori completed trades apprenticeships.

"That goes to show that something's not happening, the support is not there."

He loved seeing Maori succeed.

"I just want to finish my time, and prove to people in my boat, prove to Maori, that I came from a real dark background and I got through it.

"If I do it, any Maori can do it."

The He Toki ki te Mahi Apprenticeship Training Trust - an extension of the original pre-trade training scheme, offering mentoring through apprenticeships - was launched Thursday.

 - Stuff

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