A partnership between Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway project and the Universal College of Learning (UCOL) is providing local people with training and employment opportunities on a major infrastructure project.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency started construction on Te Ahu a Turanga in January 2021 and once completed, the 11.5km, four-lane highway will reconnect communities in the east and west of the central North Island.
The partnership between Te Ahu a Turanga and UCOL was formed in late 2020 to provide graduates and students with experience, training and opportunities in the form of internships, apprenticeships and work placements.
Other partnership features include working together on an in-house Tikanga/Te Reo Māori programme, the provision of site visits for UCOL students to better understand a construction project of this scope, and Te Ahu a Turanga staff attending UCOL events, such as careers expos and open days.
In celebration of the partnership, Te Ahu a Turanga Project Director Tony Adams, Waka Kotahi Owner Interface Manager Grant Kauri and UCOL Chief Executive Dr Linda Sissons signed a Statement of Intent recognising the partnership’s aims and intentions.
Mr Kauri says while the delivery of the new highway was the primary goal, Te Ahu a Turanga project is committed to providing broader social outcomes for the region.
“One of our intentions is to give back to the community and to leave it in a better place than when we started. By providing a training ground to upskill graduates and students, we’re creating opportunities for people living in this rohe to be part of one of the largest infrastructure projects in New Zealand, and strengthening the regional construction sector with a skilled workforce.”
Dr Sissons believes that the partnership between UCOL and Te Ahu a Turanga is a great boon, not just for our students but for our whole community.
“We greatly value our partnership and the impact that it will have in our rohe. Offering work experience and Work Integrated Learning on such a large-scale, exciting project is incredibly important to the learning journeys of our ākonga.
“Our joint mission to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi in all we do has also seen the creation of a meaningful Wānanga on tikanga me te reo Māori that will benefit our entire community.”
One of the UCOL graduates to benefit from this partnership is Emily Kang, an engineering cadet currently working on the Parahaki Bridge, over the Manawatū River.
After completing the Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trades Skills (Carpentry) with UCOL, Ms Kang was part of a group selected to take part in a 3-month pre-apprenticeship, which included helping with the construction of the Project’s Te Whare Pūmanawa office site.
Ms Kang showed great leadership and potential over this time, which led to her being selected for an engineering cadetship to work towards a Level 6 New Zealand Diploma in Civil Engineering.
Te Ahu a Turanga Senior Project Engineer Nick Myers Kay, who oversees Emily’s training on site, said she was a credit to both the project and to UCOL.
“Emily is a one of a kind of individual; it’s very rare to find someone of her character. For her to slot straight into something that is so foreign and challenging, and for her to do it so confidently and comfortably is really quite remarkable.”
Ms Kang said it was an honour to be a part of the Te Ahu a Turanga team.
“Parahaki Bridge is an incredibly complex engineering project and I’m learning new things all the time. It’s going to be so impressive when it’s completed so to be part of the team working on such a cool structure is extremely rewarding.”
Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway is scheduled for completion in December 2024.
Want to start your career in the Trades? Check out the Government’s Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF) and enrol in a UCOL Trades course for free for 2022. This funding is only available until December 2022 so don’t miss out!