New timber industry course changing lives

November 2021

A free eight-week pre-employment course is not just teaching job skills, it’s making a difference to lives.

The course, co-funded by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and Tumu, teaches life skills and on-site job training in the timber processing, building supplies and related industries, wrapped up in pastoral care. It is open to school leavers and job seekers aged 17 to 26, with enrolments for upcoming courses being taken now.

Vaiana (Vee) MacGregor (23) and Kauri Rangiihu (24), both from Flaxmere, will be in the second cohort to graduate in a few weeks once they have completed their work experience. From there, they will be matched with an employer; within one of the Tumu Group businesses or with an external company.

Vee and Kauri have high praise for the course, especially co-ordinators Matt Tamanui and Kirsten Newton.

Yes, the job skills and the connection to an employer will be invaluable, but even more important are the dignity, respect and understanding with which every course participant is treated.

It is not the first MSD course Vee has undertaken, but it is by far the best – and just what she needed. “I’d been working in administration in Australia before COVID started and I came back home. I thought about studying accounting, but the cost put me off. And I like to use my hands. My dad was very handy, so I was brought up to be able to do things. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I wasn’t getting anywhere.”

Getting a taste of an industry that means she uses both her brains and her hands has the potential to be life-changing. It is highly likely to lead to further study in the construction industry.

Being treated with respect has been huge for Vee. “I’ve done other courses, but this is the first one where I felt the people running it actually gave a s**t and truly cared about us and our future. They check in with you, make sure you’re still on track, and whether there’s anything outside of the course that is making it hard.

For Kauri, it’s about finding employment in an industry he is already keen on. With a background in concreting, he wants to expand his knowledge and experience and get to the stage where he can work as a contractor.

Kauri’s advice to anyone with an interest in building-related industries is to give it a go. “It’s a good mix of fitness, team-building and job skills. It’s a really good starting point if you want to work.”

Building Futures is a collaborate initiative, with course costs funded by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), Tumu providing the required facilities, pastoral care and course co-ordination, and Hastings District Council providing planning and communications support.

Tumu Timbers General Manager James Truman says the initiative is driven by the need for more workers in the timber processing, building supplies and related industries, as well as a desire to help young people needing a start in the industry. To apply for the course see and hit the ‘Apply now’ button.

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