'Match fit' Masterton trainees raring to go

By nathan.crombie@age.co.nz -
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New base for training scheme

PLANE: Nathan Graham works the geometry of a traditional Maori fighting staff while fellow trainee Therese Dench fashions a pine bow.PHOTOS/NATHAN CROMBIE
PLANE: Nathan Graham works the geometry of a traditional Maori fighting staff while fellow trainee Therese Dench fashions a pine bow.PHOTOS/NATHAN CROMBIE

The latest crop of Nga Kanohi Marae O Wairarapa trades trainees have taken in stride a shift from their former Masterton base to Te Ore Ore Marae sited just east of the town.

The marae-based training scheme was the first of its kind in New Zealand at its launch in the town in 2009. The organisation had since worked out of the Te Heru a Rangi Marae near the southern approach to Masterton until several weeks ago after the site was sold to timber and hardware merchants Tumu ITM.

Trevor Simmonds, Land-Based Training tutor and retired New Zealand Army field engineer, said their new base was an appropriate and comfortable fit for the core group of 10 trainees, who had already helped repair floorboards and build deck chairs, and an ornate version of an outdoor piece of furniture, for the marae.

The trainees were working towards a Level 2 National Certificate in basic residential property maintenance with building construction and allied trades skills and were also completing health and safety and basic numeracy and literacy lessons, and learning to produce traditional Maori weapons using power tools.

"It's all down to the geometry and the numbers," Mr Simmonds added.

The trainees were expecting to graduate the NZQA-accredited 31-week course in July and pastoral care was a defining element of the scheme, with trainees often picked up from home and taken to and from the course headquarters, and lunches provided and marae tikanga and kawa observed.

Mr Simmonds, who has been working with Nga Kanohi O Wairarapa for almost two years, said the trainees were learning to become reliable and productive employees who were match fit and ready for the workforce.

He said trainees were in need of more specialised gear for their work, and he appealed to any individuals, schools or organisations that could donate used carving tools to the group.

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