Aurecon cadetship with Ngāi Tahu likely to expand

Aurecon is looking to increase the number of cadets it accepts for the cadetship programme it runs in with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. This decision comes in the wake of the programme’s success. Aurecon may also investigate the establishment of the programme with other New Zealand tribes.

The brainchild of Neil Barr, manager of the Australian/New Zealand Aurecon offices, the cadetship’s vision is to provide meaningful career opportunities for young Māori.

Barr, who remembers the challenges for young people he encountered during his upbringing in Scotland, said that the most economically beneficial, untapped natural resource that New Zealand has, sits between the ears of our young people.

“I am very much aware that breaking the cycle of generational hardship is incredibly difficult but being able to successfully tap that well of talent is worth the challenge. Youth unemployment rates are significant and we all owe it to our future generations to try harder.”

As there was no precedent for this type of partnership, careful planning went into the Memorandum of Understanding to ensure that such a long-term relationship had real value, from an educational as well as cultural and life skills perspective. The Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology was included from the start.

Aurecon Christchurch office manager, Murray Fletcher said that discussions were held within Aurecon on how cadets’ study leave would be managed within the team and the potential impact on project workload.

“Meetings were held between the various unit managers to ensure consistency in approach so that each cadet had a similar learning experience,” he said.

After a selection process involving several interviews, Dunedin’s Antony Gray and Christchurch’s Josh Mitchell were selected and have both been at Aurecon’s Christchurch office for a few months.

Both 18-year-olds are extremely grateful for the opportunities they have received and the support they have been given in starting out on such exciting careers. Josh is a cadet geotechnical engineering technician and Antony is a cadet drafter. Both have now enrolled for their New Zealand Diploma of Engineering. Josh’s weekly workload involves 20 hours at polytechnic and 32 hours at Aurecon; and Antony is about to replicate that, as his polytechnic study intensifies.

Antony, who had to change cities to undertake his new job, is boarding privately with a family he knew from Dunedin, and is slowly turning Christchurch into his home. He was educated at Dunedin’s Bayfield High School.

“Aurecon is such an awesome place to work and I am trying to play a bit of volleyball and some basketball. That’s helping me get to know more people but when I start the same polytechnic course as Josh, in June, I’m not sure I will have much spare time.”

Josh started at Aurecon straight after finishing school in November. After the Christchurch earthquakes, he moved from Shirley Boys’ High School to Ellesmere College.

“It’s a privilege to get this opportunity and I know what a huge difference it has already made in getting me started on a career,” he said.

Mondays are the most challenging day for Josh, as he undertakes 12 hours of classes at polytechnic.

Tā Mark Solomon, kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, said that the cadetship creates a significant opportunity for Ngāi Tahu to contribute to the earthquake recovery and gain a meaningful career in a professional field.

“Aurecon has a strong relationship with Ngāi Tahu Property, so this partnership further leverages iwi commercial relationships to create employment opportunities for iwi members. At the same time, it builds iwi technical expertise to assist Ngāi Tahu Property in future developments.

“I must commend Neil Barr for his drive in creating this opportunity, not only for Ngāi Tahu, but if his plans for the other tribes in New Zealand come to fruition, for them as well,” he said.

Josh Mitchell.

Josh Mitchell (left) and Antony Gray.