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Work-ready youths successful and employed

Students and staff at Te Wananga in Masterton. PHOTOS/EMILY IRELAND

Emily Ireland

Nineteen students have taken their education journey to the next level, set to graduate from Te Wananga o Aotearoa – Wairarapa next month.

The 19 students also participated in Licence 2 Work, an initiative facilitated by Youth in Education Training or Employment.

Linda Voice, kaitiaki (supervisor) for tourism at Te Wananga, based on Lincoln Rd in Masterton, said the great thing about (L2W) was that it fitted in with the education centre’s values of “working hard, taking care of others, being accountable, having support around you, and trying new things”.

“It has had some wonderful outcomes”, Voice said, with five of their students going on to employment.

“Whether they have gained employment or not, they’ve certainly gained experience for a reference, which is huge in this day and age.”

Selina Hill, kaiako (teacher) for tourism said the past year had been about the students connecting with the wider community.

“That extends to churches, workplaces, Youth Services support, members of Pathways – it’s about involving the whole community.”

Libby Gold, kaitiaki for retail and hospitality agreed, saying all Te Wananga’s staff were grateful to the employers who had supported their students this year.

Work experience employers were: Wairarapa Resource Centre, Salvation Army Family Store in Carterton and Masterton, Copthorne Solway Park, McDonalds, Carterton Events Centre, Carter Court Rest Home, St Vincent de Paul, Changes Medi Spa, Masterton District Library, Trust House Recreation Centre, Halo Hair Salon, and Power Farming.

Te Wananga Kaiwhakahaere Ako (manager) Wayne Poutoa said the culture of Te Wananga was “finding transformation through education”.

Te Wananga ran programmes in Carterton in 2016, and then in Masterton in 2017 and 2018.

“We are dealing to a culture of circumstance – young people unemployed, young people with nowhere to go . . . This result is thanks to a whole community encouraging them [youths] to put their hands up and say, give us a shot.”

The 19 Te Wananga students will graduate on December 10, and the following students have all achieved employment going forward.

Pyper McPhee, 17

Pyper McPhee’s life changed when she started studying at Te Wananga.

After years of bullying at her previous school, she learned the benefits of a positive learning environment and has gone on to be employed at the Masterton swimming pools.

“Te Wananga has changed my life around quite a lot actually,” she said.

“I used to get really badly bullied at school, to the point where I couldn’t really do it anymore.

“I sat there thinking, was I worth it?

“But I knew it was only because of what the bully was saying that I was thinking I wasn’t good enough to be here.

“I came here [to Te Wananga], and it’s basically given me a fresh start.

“Everyone is a whole lot nicer here. No bullies – they don’t accept that here.

“It’s been the best thing for me. I love it here and it’s going to be sad leaving.”

Pyper said the most important skill she learned at Te Wananga and L2W was communication.

Dayna Jones, 17

Dayna Jones, started attending Te Wananga after completing a course at UCOL,

“I didn’t have a job after, so I came here to get my level two in retail and hospitality and get a job.

“I finished the course and I got a job at Solway Park.

“I also got my licence, and now I’m studying further next year at UCOL.”

Dayna’s advice to other youths seeking work was: “don’t give up”.

“Keep trying to get a job. You feel so good when you are earning your way.

“I used to be on the youth benefit because I moved out.

“It feels better earning your money.”

Dayna left school at Year 10 after her best friend died.

“Ever since, everything was really complicated.

“I went through a lot of personal stuff, but through Te Wananga I have learned a lot about myself, and I feel like I wouldn’t be able to handle most things now if I didn’t go through what I have.”

Jurnee Millward, 18

Jurnee Millward’s journey with Te Wananga began earlier this year when she was 17 years old and “addicted to synthetics”.

“I’ve improved so much through this course – like I’m baptised, and I have a job at McDonalds.

“It’s just such a change from where I used to be – who I am today doesn’t even sound like me anymore.”

Jurnee’s fall into the clutches of synthetic drugs started at the end of last year when she was “bombarded” by a lot of personal issues and moved out of home.

The people she lived with “smoked synthetics and so I thought, I want to try that”.

Now living in Carterton on the site of the Carterton Baptist Church, Jurnee said she hasn’t touched synthetics for four-and-a-half months now.

“You have slip-ups, but now I’m totally clean.

“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke drugs, I’m not that person anymore, and it is so good to say that.”

As her place of learning this year, Te Wananga has surrounded her with “people that are on a positive vibe all the time” giving Jurnee the strength to be the best version of herself she can be.

“It’s amazing. If I had stayed where I was, I probably would have died from all the bad batches.”

The most important thing Jurnee learned at Te Wananga and through the Licence 2 Work programme facilitated by YETE was customer service skills.

It was this skill, and work experience that led to Jurnee being employed by McDonalds, Masterton.

Her future aspirations include training to become a social worker and mental health support worker.

“I want to look after people and care for them the way I have been cared for.

“I want to change people’s lives the way that mine has been changed.

“Through Te Wananga, everything is so different than what I am used to.

“I’m used to being around people who are in gangs. It was so negative.

“Now, everything is positive.”

Wade Hammington, 16

At Wade Hammington’s previous school, he was “getting into mischief”.

School staff told him he had two options: “If I stuffed up one more time I would get expelled, or I could come to this course at Te Wananga”.

“This course was a lifeline for me.

“I learned a lot of leadership skills here; I learned to work well in a team, and how to have a positive attitude in the workplace.”

During Wade’s time with Te Wananga and the L2W programme, he did work experience with the Salvation Army, the Wairarapa Resource Centre, and McDonalds.

He was offered a job at McDonalds where he remains today.

The advice he had for other students his age was that if mainstream school was “not for you”, find another pathway to employment.

Payten Te Riini, 18

Payten Te Riini started learning at Te Wananga two days after his 18th birthday.

Before he started, staff assisted him in getting his driver’s licence, a handy skill considering he has now been employed as a tractor driver in Pongaroa.

“Through doing this course I was able to go for my licence, move out of home and into the Carterton Baptist Church.”

He said he enjoyed all the trips he was taken on as part of the course, work experience, and learning work-ready skills.

His favourite subject he learned about was retail store security, but after getting work experience learning about vehicles, and mechanics, he was handpicked for the work he is in now.

He said it was rewarding working hard for his pay.

Using this hard-earned money, he has proposed to his fiancé.

“Everything is all falling into place – or getting there.”


  1. Congratulations Payten for your achievements,your hard work for the goals youve done so far.Keep it up.Ngā mihi hoki ki nga kaiako o te Wananga o Aotearoa mo o koutou mahi ki o tātou tamariki. Arohanui.

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