Past and present Te Wānanga o Aotearoa students have joined forces to plant one million trees near Rotorua.
Four current students on a Te Wānanga o Aotearoa forestry course, along with one former student, have been part of a crew that achieved the rare achievement last weekend.
Pacey-Jack Apo, Tirakia-Kalani Edmonds, Ray-Borneo Howden and Caleb Werahiko from the Semester B 2020 intake, as well as 2019 student Russell Whata, helped hit that mark during planting which began after the Covid-19 rāhui.
They were doing the work as employees of contractors Mahi Rakau (the former CNI) while the Semester B students also completed a 22-week Certificate in Forestry Industry Foundation Skills course at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
"It's pretty rare for crews to hit the one million mark during a planting period so hats off to these guys for being part of a top crew," course kaiako (teacher) Shand Edwardson said.
"This is a great example of how our tauira (students) get real time, on-the-job experience as they do our Rotorua-based programme."
Edwardson works with a wide range of forestry sector stakeholders – including Mahi Rakau, Māori and Pacific Islands Trades, Timberlands and Vertical Horizons – to equip students with forestry learning and experience, traffic management skills and driver licencing support.
With many of the tauira having difficulty getting a job previously it was important that participation in the course was "a pretty sure pathway to employment", Shand said.
"If they're ready to go to work we can pretty much put them into work at the same time as they start the course."
So on the job training is supplemented by the skills and training taught at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
"They get paid work while learning from ourselves and their employers. The tauira are assisted to upskill through the course while we also help meet forestry sector labour needs."
Two courses are run every year and cater for a minimum of 15 tauira each.
Anyone interested in the forestry course in Rotorua can contact Te Wānanga o Aotearoa on 0800 355 553 or visit www.twoa.ac.nz for more information.