Building Careers

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For young Cook Islander KaillanTamarua, gaining an apprenticeship at the Wellington Institute ofTechnology (WelTec) Petone campus has opened opportunities he never thought were possible.

When initially approached to become a builder's apprentice, Kallian admits he wasn't interested. But he decided to apply to help him earn some pocket money, enabling him to return to what he regards as his 'real' home in Rarotonga.

The more he worked, however, the more he began to enjoy it. "It really opened up my eyes," says Kaillan.

"I began thinking about our family land in Rarotonga and how I could construct my own living space, which would be great for my family's future. I initially enrolled because family thought it would be 'something to fall back on'. But it's much more than that now."

Kaillan owes much to the support of family relatives living in the Wellington region.

"My uncle and his family have been great in helping to set a plan for myself and the family, which helps me finish with a certificate for basic training and construction, then move onto my apprenticeship, which will take three or four years."

IULAI OTI-LAHOOD Samoan lulai Oti-LaHood may be described as one of the more mature students at WelTec, but he's determined to make the most of his "second chance".

"I have friends and family who were keen for me to enter the trades, but I still wasn't sure," lulai recalls.

"When I turned 25,1 knew I had to make a decision, so I decided to go for it. I started working in the trades for my uncle and really enjoyed it. Seeing something that I helped construct gave me confidence. I was then committed to becoming a builder".

lulai's uncle pointed him to WelTec, which provided a pathway towards an apprenticeship. He's now fully qualified to do a range of construction work and gaining experience all the time.

A strong presence of Pacific and Maori students wanting to enter the trades ensures WelTec's Windy Sione has plenty to do providing pastoral care, mentoring and keeping students motivated for its growing number of Pasifika Trades Training scholarship students.

"It's about helping our people to be successful, which is why we have great role models and work colleagues here at WelTec," she says. "My team are passionate about driving the support we offer students, making sure they're being looked after" Windy's Maori counterpart is Errol Weston, based at WelTec and both staff are part of theTamaiti Whangai team. He describes their role as "inspiring the students to be professional."

"We want them to be more than someone who describes themselves as 'just a painter' or'just a builder'. What we want are students who aspire to be professionals, who do their work and business professionally and have the aspiration to be the owners of businesses."

The Maori and Pasifika Trades Training programme is delivered at both WelTec and Whitireia. Whitireia WelTec

Written by Kaillan Tamarua for Spasifik

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