Photo / Supplied Jo_Wakeling.JPG

Iain Hyndman

Jo Wakeling is far more comfortable in a builder's apron than a pinny in the kitchen.

And while she can cook, she is far more adept at renovating the space than slaving over a hot stove.


Wakeling is tutor of the Ag Challenge introduction to trade and DIY BCATS (construction) Level 2 course and simply loves the job.

"I graduated in 2016 from the construction Level 4 building programme and in about 2018 was asked to return to Ag Challenge for a couple of days a week as eyes on in the workshop making sure students handled the tools safely," Wakeling recalled.

"Three or four months later I was employed fulltime."

Born and bred on a sheep and beef farm in the Waitotara Valley, Wakeling is comfortable working in what are traditionally male dominated environments.

"I have certificates in horticulture, agriculture and now construction and on the farm shepherding I had my own team of dogs, so I'm used to working in male dominated industries. I also worked for Eades Sports for about 15 years selling hunting and fishing, so I'm used to the outdoors activities.

"Hammer and nails are in my blood. I have a brother, an uncle and a cousin who are fully qualified builders and another cousin who is a joiner.

"I did the building course so I could do most of the renovations or repairs around my own home myself and save money and that's what's so good about this DIY programme. It's a fees free 26-week course and the hours suit single parents with kids at school.

"It gives graduates the basics to do all sorts of stuff including which tools to use when and how to measure twice and cut once."


Since Wakeling began the course has featured both male and female students and spaces are still available. With Ag Challenge's rolling intake policy students can enrol at any time throughout the year.