A heavy machinery operator training centre and a hair and beauty academy are the latest two projects in Northland to benefit from more than $4 million from the Provincial Growth Fund.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters made the two announcements in Whangārei yesterday.

The first was at the Wilson Heavy Machinery Training Centre in Otaika, where Jones announced $4.3 million to help establish a state-of-the-art heavy machinery operator training centre in Northland to address skills shortages and grow jobs.

Jones said Wilson's Earthmoving had invested in training, and "we are meeting them halfway".

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He said the funding would "cover the costs of turbo charging this training facility, training scores and scores of young men and women to operate the heavy machinery required for infrastructure".

Jones had the chance to try out one of the training centre's three simulators.

"The training will target school leavers, the unemployed, and young adults looking to get upskilled. The programme also includes pastoral care to ensure trainees have the best chance of completing the course and finding work. Eighty students will be trained this year."

The pair then moved to Kamo High School where in the library Jones handed out his "putea" for the second time yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Kamo High School principal Jo Hutt. Photo/John Stone
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Kamo High School principal Jo Hutt. Photo/John Stone

"In order for us to support the development of the hair and beauty academy in Northland, which you young people asked for, then we today are allocating $175,000.

"This is an opportunity where the government is showing some imagination to work with your school."

The school will receive the funding, over two years, for the pilot course from He Poutama Rangatahi (HPR), which is a cross-agency programme, funded by the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) aimed at supporting young people not in employment, education or training into work.

Jones said students will learn skills that are transferable.

"That's customer service, hairdressing, beauty treatments, anatomy and physiology, but most importantly the rangitahi will do work placements with local business and provide services to the local community, and in that way we feel we're genuinely hitting the mark with PGF investment."

He and Jones were taken on a tour of the school's existing trade academy and in particular the massage and hair salons.

In the massage salon Jones was treated to a facial by year 11 student Monique Akehurst.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has a laugh during his facial. Photo/John Stone
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has a laugh during his facial. Photo/John Stone

Kamo High School principal Jo Hutt said the school conducted a survey last year which showed many Maori boys and girls wanted to do something different.

She said she was also increasingly concerned about the number of students not in education, employment or training.

The school has a secondary tertiary partnership with NorthTec where tutors come into the school and train the students.

"There sometimes is a barrier for young people to leave school, there aren't so many pastoral services away from school.

"We want to keep you safe, we want to help you solve the difficulties of life as they turn up, for every teenager, and we also want to guarantee you're going to have a pathway, and not be in that statistic."

NorthTec chairwoman Jane Hindle said the partnership, which the funding will help expand, provides a seamless transition between secondary and tertiary education, and students "don't fall through the gaps".