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Horticulture programme targets Pacific youth

Horticulture programme targets Pacific youth

  • 21 Mar 2022
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(Picture caption: The collaborative Akongoue: Pasifika Horticulture Programme targeting Pacific youth, is launched, in Mangere.)

The newly established Akongoue: Pasifika Horticulture Programme is targeting Pacific youth, with aims of introducing them to fruitful careers in New Zealand’s horticulture sector. 

This innovative programme is a collaboration between the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, Tongan Youth Trust, the Sector Workforce Engagement Programme (MBIE), and training organisation New Zealand Sports Turf Institute (NZSTI).

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Pacific Peoples says the Akongoue: Pasifika Horticulture Programme will broaden horizons and reward young Pacific people.

“There is huge potential for our Pacific youth to build lifelong, fulfilling careers in horticulture and this programme is the first step,” Minister Sio says.

“It will help our youth to appreciate and consider the land as a source of life, connecting them with the cultural and indigenous knowledge of previous generations.” 

Agriculture Minister Hon Damien O’Connor adds the programme will introduce our Pacific youth to the wide range of career options across the horticulture sector supply chain.

“In terms of exports, horticulture is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing sectors, with the sector’s exports forecast to reach $6.9 billion this financial year and expected to grow further,” he says.

“We have been investing significantly in partnership with the sector in new technology and increasing sustainability.

“For a young person that means exciting career opportunities – ranging from practical jobs like planting and harvesting, through to roles in biodiversity and sustainability, green and digital technologies, engineering, sales and marketing, research and science, and manufacturing and logistics.”

Minister O’Connor explains the programme is part of the Government’s wider efforts to connect people with jobs in the food and fibre sector.

“Our Fit for a Better World roadmap is guiding New Zealand’s recovery from COVID-19 by boosting productivity, sustainability and jobs over 10 years.

“A key part of this is attracting future generations to our food and fibre sector.”

For participants, learning will include both time in the classroom and practical activities one day per week in a safe, inclusive learning environment. 

Mentors and buddies will help participants get the best out of the programme.

As well as introducing Pacific youth to different horticulture roles, the programme will also contribute to NCEA Level 2/3 (up to 43 credits), and provide important skills, for example in first aid and health and safety.

Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni says students will also interact with a network of industry employers to help with further learning and potential employment opportunities.

“The Akongoue: Pasifika Horticulture Programme is an opportunity to bring together Pacific youth, their Kainga (families), and schools,” she says.

“It will also help them to prosper by identifying horticulture career opportunities that offer progression to tertiary studies, employment, diversity, mobility, and financial reward.”