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A visit to the Fonterra transport depot in Morrinsville. Photo: SUPPLIED

Finding purpose and employment in Hauraki

A group of rangatahi from the Hauraki district have had a chance to dream big for their future, through a mahi-ready programme run by Gr8 Job Hauraki. 

Gr8 Job Hauraki is part of the nationwide Mayors Taskforce for Jobs Community Employment initiative, a partnership between Local Government New Zealand and the Ministry of Social Development with a strong focus on getting young people into sustainable employment.  

Gr8 Job Hauraki’s community employment liaison Julie Stephenson said she was thrilled with how the nine-day mahi-ready programme, named Kei a Koe Te Tikanga, went. 

“[It was] basically everything to make our rangatahi job-ready,” she said. 

“They’re a really good bunch of young people, and it was really interesting to watch them from day one to day nine.”

The programme kicked off with a hāngi and a frank chat about where each of the seven participants, aged between 15 and 18, saw themselves in the future. 

“We had an aspirations morning where we had people from different ages with different careers come in, and it was just a fun exercise of them trying to guess who might have done what within their career,” community employment officer Nicola Poutu said.  

“That’s where we started the whole journey, to show them what was possible.”

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The group were taken on field trips to various companies, such as Fonterra, OceanaGold and the Port of Tauranga, where they were introduced to roles across a variety of fields. They also visited training facilities including Major Oak and Industry Training Solutions; had a budget and finances day; spent time volunteering at a local school; went shopping for interview outfits; and did mock interviews. 

“It’s [about] realising their potential and that they absolutely can dare to dream,” Julie said. 

“A couple had – as a lot of young people have – disengaged. They just seemed happy to settle for mediocrity… That was the one thing that I felt quite sad about.”

Nicola agreed, saying many of them just hadn’t realised the opportunities that were out there. 

“That’s what this programme was about, look[ing] outside of our own wee bubble,” she said. 

“That was a big, big push this time – what other industries can we show them and how much can we show them in one space? For example, the ports. You’re seeing all of those professions under one roof, and what the entry level looks like for them.” 

This is the second time Gr8 Job Hauraki has run the nine-day programme. The first iteration saw six of the 12 participants going into employment within three months of attending. The most recent cohort is also doing well. 

“One of our young people is already in full time employment, two are booked to sit their restricted licence in July and one other is doing their learners. Two of them have accepted our offer of the eight-day Whakatipu Course at Outward Bound in August. We have facilitated a connection for one of our younger participants with staff at Waihi College and he is now doing work experience and trades. We have stayed engaged with them all and have seen them from time to time – it is like seeing good friends,” Julie said. 

“Kei a Koe Te Tikanga has allowed us to show these rangatahi… How their journey up until that point has real value and has a lot that they can bring forward into being a good employee or a good student,” Nicola said. 

“Catching them when they’re transitioning from school, whenever that may be, and not only being mahi- focused, it might be about them staying in school or going into training – that’s really important.” 

The free Gr8 Job Hauraki Career and Job Market will be held at Paeroa War Memorial Hall on Sept 19, 2024 from 1pm – 4pm.