Growing collaboration with Te Tāwharau o te Whakatōhea

2 July 2024

Two prominent billboards at opposite ends of town are promoting opportunities to work and grow skills in local orchards as part of an exciting collaboration between Primary ITO and Te Pou Oranga O Whakatōhea in Ōpōkiti.

Stemming from an on-going connection between Primary ITO and Te Tāwharau o te Whakatōhea at their state-of-the-art mussel plant and harbour development, over the past 12 months the Primary ITO Horticulture team led by Wayne West and Adam Fleck have collaborated with Whakatōhea Trust to support skills development and capability on iwi land planted in 10 hectares of kiwifruit. 

The Trust Board provides a Kaupapa Māori service that supports whānau to live, learn, and work in the community. Their comprehensive vision for education runs from pre-school through to tertiary level, where they work with training providers including Primary ITO.

Adam and Wayne have been working with Ngareta Mason, the Trust’s education liaison officer, who brings 15 years of kiwifruit expertise to the table and possesses a strong network with local companies and community.

This work led to the development of a cadetship type programme, with learners employed on local orchards and enrolled into the Primary ITO NZ Certificate in Horticulture at Level 3 and 4. Based on the Te Ako Tiketike model, the programme weaves Māori content and growing concepts into course material.

There are currently 11 apprentices taking part in the programme across local employers in Ōpōkiti and the small nearby community of Te Kaha.

Primary ITO delivers classes for the learners, with Sector Advisor Adam Fleck traveling down to Ōpōkiti to support the delivery of evening tutorials with kai to the group when they are starting a new unit. Additional visits to learners by Ngareta Mason, in between Primary ITO sessions, have also significantly contributed to learner progress.

Collaboration between the Primary ITO marketing team and a graphic designer at Whakatōhea led to the creation of the new billboards and marketing material, with the aim of growing interest and enrolments into the cadetship programme.