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New courses to help Re-build community

New courses to help Re-build community

A new training initiative got into full swing on Monday in the township of Kaingaroa, near Reporoa.

The Waiariki Iwi Regeneration Initiative (WIRI), a project developed by Waiariki Institute of Technology, in conjunction with the Kaingaroa Community Trust is breaking new ground to meet the needs of this small community.

Two training courses, the National Certificates in Elementary Construction Skills (advanced level 2) and Solid Wood Processing (level 2), have been taken to this tightly knit community of fewer than 600 people, in response to consultation with local iwi.

Hemi Hireme, Director of Maori Advancement at Waiariki, said that one of the aims of the project is to take education and training opportunities into rural areas to help boost economic development.

"We have been talking directly with the iwi groups and helping them to develop a training programme that is in tune with their aspirations."

Both he and Ben Mitai, Head of School for Forestry and Wood Processing and a key driver in this initiative, believe that this project could provide a model which can be replicated in other rural areas.

"The strength of these programmes is their ability to provide opportunities for rural communities that begin in their localities."

Rawiri Te Whare, chairman of the Kaingaroa Community Trust said that he was confident that the construction course in particular will help some of the local people in and around their own homes as well as those who are focused on further training and employment opportunities.

"I hope you will take the opportunity to contribute back to our community. The end result will be a better community," he told students at the opening of the new programmes on Monday.

Jim Pearson, industry representative for the industry stakeholders group for Waiariki said that he expected to see some really good results.

"These courses are going to be of tremendous value, not only in monetary terms but in its social impact."

Classrooms and a teaching workshop are being provided by the Kaingaroa Community Trust and the buildings being utilised are those originally built when Kaingaroa had a thriving forestry industry.

The iwi involved are Ngati Manawa, Ngati Whaoa and Ngati Tahu.

Several students from Murupara are also attending the course. Sheila Howden (32) has been working in the forestry industry for the past 10 years and is pleased to be able to attend a solid wood processing course.

"I couldn't see myself working as a log maker's skiddy for another 10 years so I made a change of career my new year's resolution."

She says that although as a forestry worker she is used to having to travel long distances, the fact that the course has been bought into her locality will certainly make life easier. Waiariki is providing transport to Kaingaroa for the Murupara students.

These 18 week National Certificate courses, being delivered by the School of Forestry and Wood Processing, will conclude with a graduation ceremony in Kaingaroa and the whole community along with Waiariki is looking forward to this day, according to Mr Mitai.

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