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Scholarships to support construction careers

By UCOL on Tuesday, 09 May 2023

Freemasons Willson Lewis Scholarship recipients and sponsors

Manawatū construction workers and students have been awarded Freemasons Willson Lewis Scholarships totalling $17,500, to assist them with their studies and career advancement.

The Freemasons Willson Lewis Scholarships is a joint initiative between Freemasons Lodge Manawatu Kilwinning 47, UCOL | Te Pūkenga, Master Builders, and Master Painters. The scholarships were first awarded in 2016, with the goal of helping tradespeople working in the construction industry develop their skills further.

The main scholarships are awarded annually, and allow recipients to study at UCOL for a subsidised fee. Scholarship recipients can choose to study diplomas in construction, architectural technology, business, or construction trades supervision – a new programme this year.

Manawatū builders Antony Papenfus and Son Thai Huynh received the main scholarships, while 12 additional scholarships were awarded to learners currently studying the New Zealand Diploma in Architectural Technology or New Zealand Diploma in Construction.

These additional scholarships come in the form of monetary awards to help recipients with costs associated with their study. Recipients included Corbin Cottam, Navdeep Kaur, Michael McKay, Stephen Johnson, Myan Martizano, Jordan Sabine, Tom Monaghan, Jacob Quintus, Troy Burling, Mae Maniago, Sheryee Young, and Ollie Clayton.

Antony Papenfus, has recently become a foreman at Alexander Construction. His bosses offered to put his name forward for the scholarship so he can study the New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trades Supervision and grow in his role.

"Receiving this scholarship means a lot in terms of progressing in my career, helping people, and ultimately it's helping my family too," says Papenfus.

"By studying this qualification, I hope to gain the knowledge and confidence to do my job at a higher level, and also support the younger workers in the business." 

Papenfus was previously a professional rugby player and got involved in the construction industry late in his playing days.

Son Thai Huynh works as a carpentry apprentice at Colspec Construction. Huynh is due to finish his apprenticeship in June and has already been studying the New Zealand Diploma in Construction (Quantity Surveying strand) part-time since last year.

"I really appreciate this scholarship. This scholarship comes from the community, so I'm proud to receive it and use it to learn new skills and give back to the community," says Huynh.  

Juggling work with part-time study has been a challenge for Huynh, but he has shown great commitment to make it work. During the week, he gets up at 4.30am to study for an hour and a half before going to work. Huynh aims to finish his diploma within three years and eventually wants to work as a quantity surveyor for Colspec Construction.

The Freemasons Willson Lewis Scholarship recipients and sponsors.

Danny Reilly, UCOL Executive Dean Engineering & Applied Technologies, says scholarships like these make a big difference in tradespeople's lives and really benefit the industry.

"UCOL is proud to be part of the Freemasons Willson Lewis Scholarships for seven years now. Initiatives like this make it easier for tradespeople to upskill, which benefits them and their employers.  We are also pleased to add our New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trades Supervision to the list of programmes scholarship recipients can study, which is ideal for anyone who is new in a supervisor role or looking to make the step up." 

Murray Mansfield, Freemasons Lodge Manawatu Kilwinning 47 Master, says his organisation is proud to provide opportunities for tradespeople to upskill.

"Supporting and encouraging tradespeople is the foundation of Freemasonry is about. It's great to be able to support our tradespeople who want to take their careers to the next level. We hope these scholarships help Son Thai and Antony get better at what they do and lead them to further opportunities. We are also very pleased this year to be able to award additional scholarships to current students to help them get ready for their careers."

Ryan Coombes, Master Builders Manawatū President, says sponsoring these scholarships fits his organisation's ethos of supporting and growing the construction industry.

"The value of supporting initiatives like this is three-fold; individuals gain job satisfaction as they continue to develop their skills, clients get a better product and service, and our industry benefits as a whole – each builder in the industry is a key player in what our future can look like. The recipients of the Freemasons Willson Lewis Scholarships will enhance their future job prospects and build enduring and successful careers. I wish them every success."

Master Painters New Zealand is a new scholarship sponsor this year. Chief Executive Officer Paul Hallahan says it was a no-brainer for his organisation to come on board when approached by UCOL.

"Master Painters New Zealand is privileged to be a part of this scholarship initiative. It is about being able to provide a career path for people in the trades. Sometimes people enter a trade and they think they're just going to be on the tools their whole career, but these scholarships show that there are opportunities to evolve in the industry."

Mitre 10 Mega Palmerston North donated merchandise packs for the main scholarship recipients.



1) All of the Freemasons Willson Lewis Scholarship recipients and sponsors.

2) Darren Shadbolt (Freemasons Willson Lewis Scholarships Committee Chair), Paul Hallahan (Master Painters New Zealand Chief Executive Officer), Antony Papenfus, Son Thai Huynh, Ryan Coombes (Master Builders Manawatū President), Murray Mansfield (Freemasons Lodge Manawatu Kilwinning 47 Master) and Grant Smith (Palmerston North Mayor).