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Gateway Student Cultivates Career At Plant Nursery

Joseph Cole’s love of the outdoors made him a natural fit in Porirua City Council’s nursery.

The 17-year-old Aotea College student began working at the nursery, off Bedford St, a day a week in February as part of the Gateway Programme.

The programme is for year 11 to 13 students who want to explore job options while studying towards NCEA.

Joseph says he has always been interested in plants and loves bushwalking and the outdoors, so the plant nursery was an easy fit for him.

He says working in an office is not for him, and hands-on work and talking to people is more his bag.

"Last year I was lucky enough to go on a school trip to Cambodia and Vietnam where we went on a week-long walk through the forest. I was the only one not complaining about the heat and humidity because I was so interested in the plant life.

"The most satisfying thing about working here for me is growing plants from a cutting, raising them and looking after them, then selling them to customers to plant in their gardens."

The plants are eco-sourced - picked or propagated from original plants in the area - and Joseph is hoping to get the chance to go on one of the seed-collecting expeditions with nursery staff.

Nursery manager Joe Clarkson is rapt with Joseph’s enthusiasm.

"It’s great to have a local young person with an interest and aptitude for plants, who is invested in the work we are doing at the nursery," Mr Clarkson says.

Joseph has now been asked to be a paid staff member over the summer while the staff repropagate the plants for planting around Porirua City in 2021.

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Porirua Mayor Anita Baker was delighted to hear about a success story like Joseph’s. With children and young people a priority for the Council, it was fantastic to see this could be the beginning of a career for the budding horticulturist.

"I’m a great believer in giving young people the opportunity to try out occupations in areas they are interested in," she says.

"It’s a win-win for our community when students get a foothold in a future career and employers get to pass on their skill and knowledge to young people wanting to learn."

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