Skip navigation

As our website has been designed to work with the latest version of Internet Explorer, we recommend you upgrade or use a different browser like Chrome or Firefox.
Download and install Chrome or Firefox now.

Primary ITO: Knowledge to grow

News & Features

From learner to training his own team

8 October 2021

Sports Turf Kaia

Kaia Kerrisk loves his job managing the Carrington Resort and Golf Course grounds with his team of turf specialists and garden managers on Northland’s picturesque Karikari Peninsula.   

It’s quite a change from the other jobs he’s had and it’s all because the opportunity came about for him to take a Primary ITO apprenticeship in Sports Turf Management while also learning on the job in his new role.   

Kaia grew up in the eastern Bay of Plenty town of Rūātoki and the area where his wider whānau still live.  He attended a Kura Kaupapa primary school and later Whakatane High School, leaving school to take up a building apprenticeship in 2012.   

Kaia worked for 12 years in the building industry, including working as a foreman before moving with his partner and young children to Karikari Peninsula to be nearer to his partner’s whānau. He took up building at Karikari but was also looking for a change when he saw the apprenticeship role advertised at the Carrington Estate.   

Kaia says he’s thankful for what has turned out to be a life changing opportunity to gain the qualification and learn new skills including supporting and managing others.   

He says his whānau, mentors in his life and more recently his former manager at Carrington Estate (William Harris) have helped him achieve something he loves to do. He smiles as he recalls his previous manager putting a lot of time and training into advancing Kaia so that he himself could move on to another role.  

“He put a lot of effort into me as he had his own goal and that was to go into the building industry – we actually swapped roles!”       

Kaia is now the estate’s Golf Course Superintendent and, with the support of his team, manages the resort grounds.  

He commends the Primary ITO apprenticeship programme which he says has given him the opportunity to develop his skills to a very high standard and take a management role.   

“The PITO were absolutely fantastic. I cannot fault anything they do within the Training scheme.” 

“It’s pretty awesome. There is a whole lot of support so that encourages you to do better and to do well.”  

Now he’s giving that same opportunity to his apprentices. “That is my biggest motivator - being able to give that opportunity that I had to someone else.“  

One staff member is currently studying for a full apprenticeship, two have completed level 3 and will resume level 4 next year.   

Kaia has 10 full-time staff in his team and that grows to up to 20 with additional work required to maintain the property in the summer months. They look after the golf course, a shooting range, the resort, winery and extensive lawns and gardens on the 1214-hectare property which sits beside the Pacific Ocean.  

Turf and garden management provides a variety of mahi and changing seasons provide different challenges, he says. “You are learning every day and that is a bonus.”  

Another bonus is the lifestyle the area offers. Everyone in my team loves fishing and diving so we get to get out in the water as well. A good thing with being here is that it becomes a lifestyle with the job.  

If you are interested in learning more about Sports Turf explore here or get in touch.