As Christchurch continues to rebuild, Ngāi Tahu is continually adding its influence by contributing to the construction of new buildings.
On Thursday, Ngāi Tahu Property and Hawkins Construction celebrated reaching the top of the King Edward Barracks development.
To mark the moment, Ngāi Tahu Property chief executive David Kennedy together with Steve Taw, Hawkins' South Island Regional Manager, poured the final concrete to complete the top floor.
The South Island tribe’s trades training apprenticeship course, He Toki ki te Rika, is a resurrection of the former Māori trades training courses that were run more than 30 years ago, He Toki spokesman Dr Eruera Tarena said.
“Even though this was a while ago, we still remember the effectiveness of the Māori Trades Training Hostels. So after the quake hit we thought about how we could resurrect that type of programme which was invaluable. This has been going on for five years now and we can definitely say we've achieved what we set out to do.”
Both Dr Tarena and Steve Taw agree that the relationship between Hawkins Construction and Ngāi Tahu is good.
“Nevertheless, we've been collaborating together closely for five years now. We've been on this course for a while now,” Dr Tarena said.
“It’s a relationship that’s built on trust. There’s a lot of things that we’re doing that’s breaking new ground. But I think as long as people are communicating in a transparent way and leaving any personal agendas to the side, then it’s hugely satisfying to see people who may not of had an opportunity to enter the industry, get that opportunity,” Mr Taw said.
He said many of the apprentices see the value in what they’re learning.
“I really see a great deal of passion and that’s from the time they make that commitment here at the local marae, you know, you can see it in their faces that they can see a better life for themselves and their whānau and that’s really where those people see great benefits – this is a career.”
Although Māori unemployment is about 13% compared with the rest of the population, He Toki ki te Rika is creating jobs, Dr Tarena said.
“We've had more than 1000 Māori students involved in He Toki ki te Rika. We can say with full confidence that they've all found full time employment. Some have graduated with excellence and have attained apprenticeships. So, yes, you can definitely say that this has been a successful programme.”
Before joining the course 26-year-old Amos Neate (Ngāi Tahu) was down and out living on the streets getting drunk and high until a friend convinced him that he could achieve something positive.
Now his prospects of getting a full time job in the building industry are looking brighter than ever.
“Once you finish your apprenticeship it doesn’t stop there. They offer more training to further yourself in the career of choice, and this is my career of choice. So hopefully one day I’ll be sitting in the office and having a job of my own to run, so that’s the aim,” said Mr Neate.
The total first stage of the $85 million project includes two office buildings and a car parking building, together with a central garden area, and is set to be completed by February 2017.