Excellent progress is being made on the build of new education centre Te Wānanga Taiao, at Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre.
There have been some hold-ups with Covid and some engineering challenges. "Because one area of the ground was very soft at a deep level, we couldn't use normal wooden piles in that area," said Lester Wolfreys, project manager.
"We used screw-piles - modern technology used for the first time in the district. Because there is a dip in the ground, we had to put piles on top of the screw-piles," he said.
Engineering apprentice, Kanesha Waldron of Ngāti Tūwharetoa - who lives in Eketahuna - came in to take up the challenge. "It's an intricate design and one of the biggest jobs I've ever done," she said. "It's been really cool to challenge me." Waldron works as part of a team, but did 90 per cent of the fabrication and welding, pulling a few long shifts to meet deadline and avoid any hold-up for the building progress.
Wolfreys said his building team is pleased and proud of Waldron's work. "For a young apprentice to be doing the work she has done, it's a real credit to her for her skills and determination," he said.
Waldron is an apprentice in heavy fabrication in her third year, working for Loaders Engineers and is studying at Weltec in Petone. "I love the job, learning heaps and love welding and fabricating," she said.
"It's a pretty male-dominated industry, I've only met two other women in six years that I've been engineering. More girls are getting encouraged to come into the trade. I think I'm underestimated a lot, but I love being able to prove them wrong, especially with a project like the floor bearers for the education centre," she said.
Waldron's mother is one of the staff at Pūkaha, doing accounts and property management.
"We've only been held up for a couple of weeks with the weather, we've been fortunate to get the roof on before winter hits really hard," said Emily Court, general manager, Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre. "It's full steam ahead now, the progress should be really good after the momentous work on the floor bearers, which means being able to connect up three different wings of the education centre. It's a huge leap forward. Following an engineering review we are confident that the building is 100 per cent safe," she said.