Late in January over 60 new students joined He Toki ki te Rika – the Māori trades training programme at CPIT.

He Toki is a 12 to 20 week Māori pre-trade training course that Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, CPIT and Hawkins Construction have been running for the last two-years. He Toki covers pre-trade programmes in carpentry, painting and decorating, plasterboard, plumbing and drain laying. He Toki students are taught at CPIT’s Trades and Innovation campus and learn in a cultural environment, which involves tikanga and use of te reo.

Since joining He Toki the students have been busy learning their trade as well as completing their work readiness passport.

Carpentry student Martin Frost (Ngāi Tahu – Ngāti Moki) says the training has been going well so far and he hopes to stay on for another semester to get better at his trade.

“Everybody is really positive, the teaching has been great, everyone just gets in there and gets it done.

“I am thinking I will stay on and continue my study, I am in a good flow now and if I keep studying I will be more valuable to employers.”

A $1m boost from government late last year helped to create scholarships for He Toki students, which includes full fee support, support from a Māori support team, help with work placement and a $1,000 apprenticeship grant. The investment also created two new He Toki roles, an apprenticeship coordinator and a dedicated skills broker.

Sharlane Smitheram Manawatu started her He Toki ki te Rika (Māori Trades Training) Painting and Decorating course just four weeks ago and she couldn’t believe the courses were free and the amount of support you get.

“The support offered to us is awesome. We have people here at CPIT telling employers to come in and check us out. I’m telling everyone about it,” she says.

Only five weeks into the course several of our He Toki students have already found work experience and apprenticeship opportunities. Sharlene is one of these lucky students.

“I’ve been offered a job and I haven’t even finished yet,” she says.

She wants to encourage more young Māori to enter He Toki programmes to make a better life for themselves and their whānau.

“I’ve been talking to my brother about it and pushing him to get involved too. I want us all to show what we as Māori can do,” she says.

On Friday 5 April from 6pm-8pm He Toki are holding an open evening for anyone who is interested in trades training. Come along to find out more about the programmes, hear from guest speaker Tā Mark Solomon and take a tour of CPIT’s trades campus. Call 0800 24 24 76 to RSVP.