The partnership means students like 17-year-old Ethan can learn valuable trade skills while producing much needed housing for the community.

“The academy has really helped me grow in confidence. I hope to gain an apprenticeship in building and construction, and eventually start my own company,” Ethan says.

Now into its tenth year, the building academy sees students gain experience in all aspects of carpentry, while working under the supervision of qualified builders and teachers.

Members of the Dargaville High School Building Academy

For 18-year-old Sean, being part of the academy fills him with a sense of pride. “The homes we build are going to make a real difference in the community. I feel like I’ve achieved something special here.”

The academy is just weeks away from finishing its first Kāinga Ora home. Complete with five bedrooms and an accessible bathroom, the home is being built on the school grounds and will be transported to Kaitaia when finished.

Academy tutor and licensed builder Tim Pratt says: “These kind of opportunities are hugely important for a place like Dargaville. “The students finish the course with knowledge, trade skills and the ability to use tools with confidence.”

Dargaville High School is the second school to enter such a partnership with Kāinga Ora, after Massey High School started producing new state homes earlier this year.

Kāinga Ora works with a number of organisations to help increase New Zealand’s pipeline of construction workers, as part of its commitment to the Construction Sector Accord(external link).

The Kāinga Ora Apprenticeship Programme has already seen more than 180 apprentices up tools on build and development sites.  For more on Kāinga Ora training programmes, contact George Ellis at

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Page updated: 6 November 2020