Timaru student praises He Toki trades training programme
A Timaru student is singing the praises of a trades course that is aiming to boost Maori and Pasifika employment and education opportunities in Canterbury.
Shalom Paiaaua, 23, will be the first person in his family to gain a tertiary qualification when he graduates as a carpenter in 2017.
He is one of hundreds of Maori and Pasifika students taking part in the He Toki ki te Rika trades training programme, which began in Timaru in 2015.
The course took up to 16 Maori and Pasifika students in Timaru, who were able to train in carpentry free of charge.
It is run as a partnership between Ngai Tahu, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) and Hawkins Construction.
Paiaaua successfully finished the stage one carpentry programme at the end of 2015, and is about to start stage two.
Building things and working with his hands was something he loved. The exams, not so much.
But he was sticking with the course to give himself a better future.
"When you're holding the hammer and just doing your thing, it's good.
"It's good to be with new people, and the tutors."
He said having courses aimed at Maori and Pasifika students was important, as it provided opportunities for their futures.
Originally from Samoa, he planned to go back to work as a carpenter in the future. He also wanted to work in Christchurch as part of the earthquake rebuild.
He was proud of the fact that he would be the first person in his family to gain a tertiary qualification, and his family were supporting him through the programme.
When he graduated from the stage one programme at the end of 2015, members of his church also attended to support him.
Paiaaua is a member of the Congregational Christian Church Samoa in Timaru, where his father is a pastor.
"I found the course hard to begin with, but I just prayed to God to help me."
The programme has also been praised by Aoraki Development Business and Tourism chief executive Wendy Smith.
"It is excellent to see trades related training opportunities enhanced within South Canterbury and linked to employers who will provide real job outcomes.
"The ongoing growth of our economy will continue to see demand in a wide range of trade related areas."
The programme was initially launched in 2011 to grow Māori leadership in the trades to support the Canterbury rebuild.
Over 800 students have enrolled in the programme since it began.
The intent of the collaborative partnership was to leverage the strengths, knowledge, and networks of the partner institutions at both governance and operational levels, to enhance Māori and Pasifika education and employment outcomes.
The unemployment rate for Maori and Pacific Islanders has been decreasing in recent years.
In 2013, 14.3 per cent of Maori and 15.7 per cent of Pacific Islanders were unemployed. Those figures dropped to 12.5 per cent and 11.8 per cent respectively in 2015.
Data from the 2013 Census showed that South Canterbury's unemployment rate for people aged 15 years and over was 4.2 per cent, while the region's unemployment rate for Maori was 9.6 per cent.