A group of Fijian RSE workers are part of a pilot programme in partnership with EIT, Vakameasina and Thornhill to learn building skills they can take home with them.

The 20-hour course teaches a group of Fijian RSE workers building skills they can use in Fiji to build their own houses. As part of the programme, the group are building a non-consented 9.9sq m sleepout-like dwelling.

The group have learnt how to use hand tools and power tools; health and safety procedures of building sites; build every part of the dwelling from the floor, walls, and roof to New Zealand building code standards; and have learnt how to use insulation.

The men learn building techniques needed in Fiji such as ensuring roofs are properly braced for cyclones. They also use materials such as plywood and corrugated iron which are readily available in Fiji, so they can build homes for themselves or community when they return.


"This is a great stepping stone for us all; to take home what we have learnt and use this knowledge to help our villages," leader of the building crew Seva Vulcadara said.

Fijian RSE workers learning building skills at EIT. Photo / Supplied
Fijian RSE workers learning building skills at EIT. Photo / Supplied

"These are really committed and capable guys who have plans to get involved in building homes for families in their village," Jae Sutherland from Vakameasina said.

Sutherland said one of the main goals the men have is to build or fix their own house or one in their community.

The group travel from Thornhill on Thursday evenings, are provided dinner from Noodle Canteen Taradale, and then take the practical class at EIT for a couple of hours.

"We just want to try to help our guys as much as possible to improve their skills so they can use the money they earn over here to help their lives in Fiji," Drew Bibby, Thornhill projects operations manager, said.

"EIT is always looking to educate everyone. It's a great opportunity to upskill them to help their villages," EIT building tutor CJ said.

"They're an awesome bunch of guys who are so keen to learn," CJ said.

Vakameasina is an RSE education organisation which holds classes that help RSE workers adapt to New Zealand life and learn skills and knowledge which they can take home. They hold classes about health, nutrition, human rights, money management, internet safety, literacy and numeracy, sexual health, small business, car mechanics, and solar panel classes.


At the end of the programme, the building will be auctioned off with proceeds going to a Fijian charity, said Bibby.

The Vakameasina programme is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Thornhill has covered the cost of building supplies.