An Iwi-led programme designed to provide targeted training linked to jobs in the Rangitīkei district has received backing from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund.

Over the next three years the Te Rūnanga o Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa education, training and employment programme will receive $864,000 through Te Ara Mahi - Pathway to Employment fund, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced last week.

"The purpose of the PGF's Te Ara Mahi - Pathway to Employment fund is to lift productivity potential in the regions by connecting local people to local employment opportunities," Jones said.

"PGF investment ... will mean jobseekers, underemployed workers and those looking to upskill will gain access to specialised training opportunities and pastoral care support.

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"It also gives employers access to trained workers for their projects, maximising employment opportunities for local people."

The programme will have an initial focus on people who have lost their jobs due to the impacts of Covid-19.

Te Rūnanga o Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa Tumu Whakarae (chair) Pahia Turia said they would work with industry and community, as well as a range of providers, to fill "significant gaps" in the Rangitīkei district's education, training and employment outcomes.

"We have been steadily building our programme over the past 18 months and are
pleased that the PGF's Te Ara Mahi fund will help us to accelerate our expansion," Turia said.

"The Iwi education, training and employment programme is based at our facility on
Hendersons Line in Marton which is a former Māori secondary school that we now call Te Poho o Tuariki.

"Our approach is to work with industry and community, and with a range of
providers to facilitate targeted training linked to jobs."

Whilst it was an Iwi-led initiative, Turia said the services were available to the entire community.

"Our programme seeks to support the aspirations of our whānau, hapū and Iwi, and the community as a whole, reflecting the long term commitment that we have to Rangitīkei, to this whenua, and to its people."

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Te Rūnanga o Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa chairman Pahia Turia says the funding will help to expand the training programme. Photo / Bevan Conley
Te Rūnanga o Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa chairman Pahia Turia says the funding will help to expand the training programme. Photo / Bevan Conley

Through the initiative, employers would gain access to locally-trained talent for their businesses, with jobseekers and those looking to upskill given training opportunities and pastoral care support delivered by the Iwi.

Te Rūnanga o Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa Developments chairwoman Tracey Hook said they had invested a "substantial amount" of Iwi money into the purchase, development and maintenance of Te Poho o Tuariki.

"It's great to see our vision for education, training and employment coming to fruition," Hook said.

"As an Iwi, we have investments in forestry, farming, honey and horticulture, and therefore have a vested interest in the education and upskilling of the local workforce."

Te Rūnanga o Ngā Wairiki Ngāti was an intergenerational investor in the district, Hook said.

"This funding will be geared towards growth sectors in the region, such as horticulture, forestry, apiculture, agriculture, civil infrastructure, construction, health and social services as well as a range of cultural and community education programmes such as Te Reo Māori, ESOL and computer training."

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Te Rūnanga o Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa group chief executive Grant Huwyler said
there was a broader mission to support Rangitīkei District Council and the community to attract greater investment into sustainable industries.

"Our Rūnanga has an important role in supporting people who live in our rohe to gain meaningful long term employment whilst also having access to the education and training required to undertake these roles.

"Growing the capability and capacity of our region is crucial and we are excited
to be able to play a greater role in our part of the region."