The Ngati Hine Forestry Trust celebrates completion of its inaugural manuka plantation training programme Nga Mahuri o Ngati Hine at Otiria Marae tomorrow, as the first batch of trainees move into full-time work.

Trust chairman Pita Tipene said the ability to earn as they learned had enabled the trainees to gain the skills while maintaining an income for whanau. All 20 trainees from Moerewa and Kaikohe, who began in February had achieved the Level 2 National Certificate in Forestry.

"They received a full suite of training, including health and safety, forestry operations and life skills," said Jack Johnson, from Johnson Contractors Ltd, the Nga Mahuri o Ngati Hine training provider.

Planting more than 200ha of manuka seedlings had given them the chance to acquire skills and prepare for the workforce. Transitioning from the classroom to the forest had transformed them, teaching them to overcome challenges and barriers, with pastoral support from Nga Tangariki o Ngati Hine.

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"As a Ngati Hine kaupapa, we sought to work with Nga Tangariki to provide localised pastoral support for our trainees that is consistent with our key values such as being transformative and achieving self-reliance" Mr Tipene said. The trust will launch a second intake of 20 trainees early next year.