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Kāinga Ora Construction Plus students relish on-site work experience

21 May 2021
Construction Plus School Work Experience

Cejaye Ikuia has known she wanted to work in the construction industry since she learned wood technology back at Intermediate School.

Like eight other young people across Auckland, the 17-year-old jumped at the opportunity to don work boots and a hard hat and spend her school holidays on a building site, through Kāinga Ora’s Construction Plus programme.

Construction Plus helps local communities impacted by urban development by connecting people with training, employment and industry opportunities across Auckland and New Zealand. The scheme is also designed to educate communities about large scale developments in their area. This April, students were assigned to Mangere West, Oranga, Ōwairaka, Hobsonville and Roskill South developments where Piritahi, the civil works alliance for Kāinga Ora, is currently preparing the land for building.

Cejaye and her friend Abigail Panuve, both from Mangere College, filled their days at the Mangere West site digging gravel and creating a silt fence to manage storm-water. Although both girls were a little nervous at the start, they say the experience was a positive one, and they particularly enjoyed being part of a team.

A supportive team environment was among the highlights for many of this year’s Construction Plus students, including Carlo Jones, 16, from Hobsonville Point High School. Carlo, and schoolmate Jade Easthope were assigned to the Hobsonville Point Development site and loved the hands-on, supportive environment.

“There’s no dumb question – we’re just here to learn,” Jade said.

Seventeen-year-old Jordan Kaho from Lynfield High School hopes to get a building apprenticeship in the future.

“My teacher told me that before I learn to build upwards, I need to learn what happens underneath, like the foundations,” Jordan said.

Also at Lynfield High School 16-year-old Mehtab Sing Nagra said he would recommend work experience to anyone interested in a building career.

Building holiday homes at his Onehunga High School got 17-year-old Don Niko Vaimalu interested in construction. Don has spent his time onsite laying pipes and covering them. He said he had to learn quickly because his team needed the work done.

Based at Roskill South Development site, Anthony Beaumont and Ethan Rakete from Mt Roskill Grammar School said the experience opened their eyes to how much work goes on at a building site.

Since it was established in November 2019, 126 people have been engaged through Construction Plus. Of these, 66 have gone on to become employed according to Construction Plus Manager Nigel Chandra.

Mr Chandra says the various site managers were all impressed by students’ work ethic and the programme continues to be a success, reinforcing Kāinga Ora’s values of working closely with other organisations (Mahi Tahi), supporting our communities (Manaakitanga), and trying new ways of supporting workforce development – or being bold (Whanake).

“The Construction Plus programme is part of an ecosystem of initiatives across Kāinga Ora that supports increasing capability in the community, industry growth and support. The most unique aspect of the programme is the prolonged pastoral and navigational support provided to participants. It is also important in helping them to understand what is going on in their environment and why.”

Ethan Rakete said of his time on the Roskill South site: “Our boss gave me a good talk about the real reason for what we are doing. We’re putting up 12 warm, dry insulated homes. He was telling us that we are changing lives for our community.”