Edgecumbe's Tipene Van Den Anker has Mana in Mahi to thank for his job at Tunnicliffe Timber.
Today he was given the opportunity to personally thank Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern when she visited him at his place of work. While there, Ardern also took the opportunity to announce a further $49.9 million in funding for the programme.
Mana in Mahi supports young people (18 - 24 years) into full-time work. A year on from its launch, the number of places available on the programme has been extended from 150 to 2000.
Just three months before the launch, Scott and Hilary McCabe and Mark and Liz Andrew bought Tunnicliffe Timber. Hilary McCabe, as part of her role with the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, was working within the CadetMax programme.
"Tipene was a Bay of Plenty CadetMax placement. I said to Scott that I had a really great guy who would be ideal for Tunnicliffes," McCabe said.
"Scott interviewed him even thought there wasn't a job available but then Mana in Mahi was launched and we were able to offer him a position."
Ardern, who was accompanied by Minister of Employment Willie Jackson and local MPs Kiritapu Allan and Angie Warren-Clark, was told by Van Den Anker that Mana in Mahi had helped him a lot.
"Not just with the job but with employment-related skills like interviews and with my confidence," Van Den Anker said. "Before this I wasn't really doing anything and finding a job had been tough."
"That's exactly what we like to hear," Ardern said.
The 19-year-old also told Ardern he, his mother and other family members, were hoping to go on a family holiday now he was employed.
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"It's been something we have wanted to do for a long time and now we can make plans."
Scott McCabe said one of Van Den Anker's attributes that made him so appealing to Tunnicliffes was his relationship with his mother Joanna Grace who worked at Plains Butchery in Edgecumbe.
"They are very close," he said. "Tipene's mother has supported everything he has done."
Grace, who wasn't at Ardern's visit, told the Rotorua Daily Post she was very proud of her son.
"I'm also very thankful for the Mana in Mahi programme that allowed him to get the job," Grace said. "Today is a both a humbling and a proud day for myself and my son."
She acknowledged it was hard for many young people to get a start and said the additional placements would be of great benefit.
Addressing the people gathered, Ardern thanked Tunnicliffes and also included all other small businesses around New Zealand that had taken up the Mana in Mahi Programme.
"It's the small businesses who have got on board with us."
Jackson said he was proud to be part of a Government that focused on both young people and the regions.
"This community [Edgecumbe] is an example of that," Jackson said.
"With Mana in Mahi young people get the chance to achieve a formal industry training qualification, such as an apprenticeship, and get paid while they train to do a job they love."
"Employers told us taking on a trainee is a big commitment, especially for smaller businesses. Mana and Mahi helps employers with the costs of pre-employment and on-the-job training costs.
"This Government wants all New Zealanders to thrive. Mana in Mahi means more employers can train and develop the next generation of skilled workers while growing their business at the same time."