People wanting to get into the Far North's growing horticulture industry can enrol in a new course in Kaikohe.
NorthTec and Te Kotahitanga e Mahi Kaha Trust (TKEMKT) are launching a horticulture course based at Te Kona, Kaikohe, with its inaugural semester start from this month.
Students will have access to TKEMKT's facilities which include roughly 10ha of volcanic land, a nursery facility, and a range of staff involved in commercial projects.
NorthTec tutor, Bruce Johnson and trust members, Justin Blaikie and Bill Dalton will be co-leading the delivery.
Johnson has a commercial background with experience working in Papua New Guinea and Tonga teaching and developing community food production. He has been tutoring at the NorthTec Dargaville campus since February and is keen to get on board with this venture.
"My goal is to educate people and give them the skills they need to be employed in the industry or go into self-employment, without having to leave the region," he said.
"Kaikohe has a large horticulture industry so it's perfect for locals to train close to home."
TKEMKT runs several programmes aiming to improve the social, cultural, environmental, health, and economic outcomes for whānau. Much of their focus is on upskilling the community to help support the region.
Dalton, education and training co-ordinator for TKEMKT said learners will get to work on site helping replant the land with both avocado trees and grapevines. They will also be able to work with the trust on the Clean Waterways initiative, helping to clean and replant local waterways.
Blaikie is the vice-chairman of the Northland Regional Council and has helped connect the trusts' nursery production to environmental projects around Northland. He has been involved in various commercial projects and is keen to pass on his considerable knowledge to ākonga.
Ākonga enrolling in the programme will grow a range of field crops and nursery plants under semi-commercial conditions. By the end of the course, students will be able to apply knowledge of plant and soil science to the identification, selection, and growth of plants as well as establish, grow, and maintain a range of healthy crops using alternative growing systems.
"The majority of Kaikohe locals have their own land or have access to land," Dalton said.
"But they don't always have the skills necessary to utilise it. We're trying to change that."
Students will also learn about workplace health and safety, as well as safe and correct chemical and fertiliser use. Graduates will be industry ready and hopefully go on to careers in the area or further afield.