Sixteen-year-old Wehi says he was “shy as” on his first day of paid work experience with Piritahi(external link), an alliance of engineering and construction companies specialising in delivering build-ready land for large-scale Kāinga Ora housing developments in Auckland.

A month later, as Wehi heads back to school, the teenager says he’s armed with more confidence and a clear sense of direction.

“I’m really keen to start a building apprenticeship. The team on the worksite this month have been really supportive; they’re like family once you get to know them.”

From left: Jacob, Wehi, Nick and Genesis

Wehi, along with 17-year-old Massey classmates Genesis and Jacob, took up their work placements in January as part of the Kāinga Ora Construction Plus(external link) programme. The group spent their time learning the ins-and-outs of civil construction works at the Kāinga Ora Roskill Development(external link).

While the trio gained experience in areas such as fencing, utilities, drainage and silt fencing, there was one particular highlight.

“One day we got to operate the diggers. We had a good half an hour on them”, says Jacob. *

With his work placement now behind him, Jacob has a promising future ahead, with a carpentry apprenticeship lined up with his brother’s employer.

Construction Plus industry coach Nick Natusch mentored the teenagers throughout their journey, and says they excelled.

 “They were keen and eager all the way through. They’re articulate, enthusiastic young guys and have really impressed us with their skills.

“These types of training initiatives are incredibly important. Without work experience, people are less likely to enter an apprenticeship.”

Prior to their work placements, the teenagers were part of Massey High School Building Academy. The initiative, run in partnership with Kāinga Ora, sees students gain experience in carpentry, plumbing and electrical work, while helping build new state homes for the community.

The academy, along with the Construction Plus programme, are among a number of training and employment initiatives run by Kāinga Ora, including the Kāinga Ora apprenticeship programme.

For more information on Construction Plus, contact Programme Manager Nigel Chandra.

For more information about the apprenticeship programme and the Massey High School Building Academy, contact Kāinga Ora Manager Social Outcomes Georgina Ellis.

* The digger operation was carried out under supervision and in a controlled environment.

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Page updated: 22 February 2021