Celebrating exceptional Pasifika apprentices

posted: 8:30 am - 6th March 2018
Pacific grant photo

(Photo caption: L-R Tony Laulu, Pacific Advisor, Skills;  scholarship recipients - Fetuli Tukia, Tevita Tameilau, Ioane McNeill-Temese, Gordon Takairangi; Garry Fissenden, CEO Skills; Issac Liava’a, National Manager for Pacific, Skills; absent - scholarship recipient Elifasa Sopi.)

Five standout Pasifika men have been acknowledged by their employers and training organisation for their commitment to trade apprenticeships.

Ioane McNeill-Temese, Gordon Takairangi, Tevita Tameilau, Fetuli Tukai and Elifasa Sopi are recipients of the inaugural Skills Pasifika Specialist Trades Scholarship 2017, which includes a financial grant of $2000 to be allocated to training fees or tools.

The five grant winners were selected from a shortlist of exceptional Pasifika apprentices following recommendations from their employers, Skills account managers and polytech teaching staff.

Each and every one of these men is well on the path of becoming an accomplished tradesman.

National Manager for Pacific at Skills Issac Liava’a says the grant winners are role models, committed to advancing in their careers while representing Pacific values in the workplace. 

“Our Pacific people can be extremely proud of the calibre of apprentices rising through our communities,” Issac says. 

“They are all helping to strengthen a growing network of Pacific people in trades and business.” 

The successful apprentices hold roots in the Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga and represent electrical, plumbing, gas fitting and roofing trades. 

Ioane from Moata'a Village, Upolu, Samoa is completing an electrical apprenticeship at Coll Electrical; Gordon from Palmerston and Atiu in the Cook Islands is adding plumbing to his set of skills with Dreco Ltd; Tevita from Vaini in Tongatapu, Tonga is working through his electrical qualifications at Sky City Auckland Ltd and Fetuli from Navutoka, also in Tongatapu, is completing his electrical trade at Harker Abergeldie.

Finally, Elifasa from Fagalii and Afega, Upolu, Samoa is undertaking a roofing apprenticeship with Complete Plumbing Service. 

At 37 years old Gordon says a trades apprenticeship has a lot to offer Pacific people even if they are a bit older. 

During the awards presentation he spoke of learning basic hands-on skills from his uncles as a young boy. 

After school and nearly 14 years in a steady job he felt a real hunger to keep learning, so, when a plumbing apprenticeship was offered to members of another team in his workplace he spoke up and made a compelling pitch to start structured training. 

At first, he says learning without hands-on, daily, plumbing experience was a challenge. 

“I went to tech but had no clue about valves and things in the guides,” Gordon says. 

“I moved companies and after one year at Dreco I am very humbled to learn all these new plumbing skills and with that experience I have been able to fly through tech.” 

Fetuli, a 25-year-old living in Mangere, initially planned to start with carpentry at MIT but the class was full. 

Rather than turn away, he moved into electrical and is loving it. 

“During the first semester I just got so interested in the electrical trade that I continued on with it and I’m enjoying every bit,” Fetuli says. 

“After finishing Level 4, I had a week left before we ended the semester, got my CV sent out, got a job with Harker Underground Construction which is now called Abergeldie Harker.” 

Fetuli is part of a close-knit team working underground with specialist electrical drilling equipment tunnelling below Albert Street as part of the Auckland City rail project. 

As National Manager for Pacific Issac strongly encourages Pacific families to consider trades as a viable and attractive career pathway for men and women. 

“Construction is booming and we hear continued calls for more qualified tradespeople to meet labour shortages and build infrastructure,” he says.

 “A trade provides a platform for our people for to earn while they learn so they can continue to support their families, become formally recognised for their skills and eventually run their own businesses, employ others and pass on their knowledge and skills.” 

Visit SKILLS for more information.