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Makoura students on the tools for homeless

Makoura College students, from left, Louie Manesa-Anae, Taofiga Manesa, Luke Rogers, and Tama Anderson are looking forward to completing their building project. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

A Masterton secondary school is giving students a head start in the construction sector while providing much-needed help for homeless people.

Seven Year 13 students from Makoura College are building three transportable cabins that the school will donate to transitional housing initiative Project Manaaki.

Makoura College joint head of technology Tori Forrester said the project was a “fantastic” way for students to get hands-on insight into a possible career in construction.

“I would like to think that at least half of these boys will gain the confidence from this to consider a career in the trades,” Forrester said.

“It will give them a foot in the door and a head-start in an apprenticeship.”

The in-school programme was NCEA Level 3 BCITO [Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation] accredited.

Community organisation Trust House provided $30,000 for the materials and equipment needed for the build.

In 2020, Trust House had also provided a grant of $97,000 for Project Manaaki to refurbish its Elizabeth St property, which could now accommodate nine people in transitional housing.

When completed, the students’ 3.6m by 2.4m cabins would either be relocated to Elizabeth St to sit alongside the existing cabins or relocated to another property.

Student Louie Manesa-Anae said it did not seem real that homeless people were living in Masterton.

“It’s really cool that we are able to do something to help them,” Manesa-Anae said.

While none of the students knew people living in cars or “under a bridge,” all were aware of people living in converted garages.

“It can be pretty cold in a garage, especially in winter,” Manesa-Anae said.

Although the cabin fit-outs would be basic and without plumbing, all cabins would be fully insulated when finished.

Forrester said students had initially found the project overwhelming, but now that it was taking shape, they were “really getting into it.”

“We are determined to have all of the cabins finished by the end of the academic year,” Forrester said.

This year was the ninth time that the Makoura College technology department had undertaken a building project.

Forrester thanked Wairarapa-based construction company Cameron Construction for their help with the build.

“It is great for the students to be gaining some practical experience and at the same time be doing something for a really good cause.”

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