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New opportunity for 15 garden warriors – can you dig it?

28 January 2014

New site, new opportunity for 15 garden warriors – can you dig it?

NorthTec is calling on the wider Whangarei community to support the development of its brand new horticultural site at the Future Trades facility in Dyer Street in order to help develop a crucial green educational asset for the future.

Dom Steenstra, programme leader for Primary Industries at NorthTec, says there is room for 15 enthusiastic garden warriors to enrol in the Certificate in Vocational Studies. This free course requires no experience in horticulture.

“We want to turn a raw site in the heart of the Whangarei industrial area that was basically a swamp into an oasis of horticultural activity,” Dom says.

“The site will offer an educational opportunity not only for main stream programmes but also school groups, weekend workshops and industry training.

“It will incorporate raised-bed food gardens, a traditional Mäori garden, hydroponics and aquaponics, a small demonstration orchard, riparian planting, a small nursery practice area, a demonstration area for sustainable energy generation and many other concepts. These need to be built at the same time as providing a fantastic opportunity for students with hands-on learning.”

Graham Smith, NorthTec’s Deputy Director for Commerce/Trades & Technology and Innovation says the new facilities reflect the practical nature of the programmes and includes a newly purchased tractor, four-wheel quad bike, a bagging machine for nursery plants and greenhouses.

Graham says the investment NorthTec has made is a reflection of the confidence that both the management and governance team has in the future demand for Primary Industry graduates.

The fees-free vocational studies programme at Dyer Street will incorporate a number of units from the already successful Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) programme including traditional Mäori gardening practices, small concreting and building task and practical horticultural skills with a sprinkling of employment skills.

“This programme particularly suits anyone who has a passion for the outdoors, loves working with their hands, or is of 16 years or older and has no qualifications or experience,” says Dom.

Graduates from this year long programme will also gain the National Certificate in Horticulture Level 1, which is particularly attractive to anyone who has not achieved level 1.

“Here’s my message: if you or you know of someone who is sitting on the couch doing nothing in 2014 then why not join our garden warriors team to turn a swamp into an incredible educational facility for the whole community to benefit from and enjoy!”

For further information or even a look at the facility contact Dom Steenstra on 027 555 2759. To enrol, Freephone 0800 162 100 or visit

NorthTec is the Tai Tokerau (Northland) region's largest provider of tertiary education, with campuses and learning centres in Whangarei, Kerikeri, Rāwene, Kaikohe and Kaitaia. NorthTec also has over 60 community-based delivery points from Coatesville in rural Rodney to Ngataki in the Far North.


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