Thu 16 Aug 2018

Shed opens, work starts

“I’m a father of five and stepfather of two.”

The man at the lectern, Michael Adams, looked too youthful to make such a claim but revealed himself to be in his thirties and a WITT student with much to be thankful for.

Michael and fellow student Sheyenne Robins spoke to a 60-strong audience at the opening of WITT’s new 264 square metre carpentry and trades block this week and he was lavish in his praise for the project.

The denim blue workshop christened The Shed sits alongside two three bedroom houses being constructed by students at WITT.

He indicated that student using the Shed would be exposed to other trades alongside carpentry.

 “We’ll get to use the tools and not worry about rain. Maybe we’ll be encouraged to change paths – the potential encased in The Shed is awesome,” he said.

He spoke of his enjoyment at studying at WITT where there was “no cap on diversity”.

“There’s me in my thirties, students in their fifties and we are studying alongside 17-year-olds. We rub shoulders with people of all ages – and that the way it is in the real world too.”

He thanked WITT for providing “so many avenues and resources” and also paid tribute to tutors, particularly senior carpentry tutor Chris Gibson.

“He’s helping me succeed”.

The Shed plan was formulated almost three years ago.

Chris Gibson and then Head of Trades Kyle Hall – who now heads the WITT subsidiary NZIHT -  attended a national carpentry conference where the message that builders would be in huge demand was made clear.

Kyle, who was the project manager, said Chris had at that time been “banging about in a garage” – not the ideal resource for students at a time.

The new facility was a first class environment for learning and for students to begin a trades career.

He said the project would not have come to fruition without the support of WITT’s council, stakeholders and the Hawke’s Bay polytech EIT.  He said working with Taranaki Futures on what has become an iconic Build a Bach programme had also helped WITT believe it could go a lot further.

“Tomorrow Taranaki secondary school students will get to use this facility – it’s fantastic,” he added.

WITT chief executive Barbara George who championed the project from its inception said The Shed was great to have “because we are all about our learners”.

She recalled the road to getting the building erected began when WITT brought back tutoring construction trades in-house “and we needed to build on the excellent work being done with the construction industry and Taranaki Futures”.

The importance of the project became increasingly clear when a national shortage builders hit headlines in 2017.

This year has seen the introduction of a New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Level 3) Carpentry programme at WITT and its popularity encouraged WITT to open enrolments for another pre-trade course starting in October.

On the back of WITT receiving a confident rating from the NZQA a day earlier, Barbara George said it had been a “fantastic week for WITT”.

Ngati Te Whiti kaumatua blessed the new building led by Rev Albie Martin.

Spokesman Haydn Te Ruki paused before blessing the kai to add his own support for the vision shown in erecting “The Shed” and teaching trades in a top class environment.

“Knowledge is power,” he said.



Pictured: Michael Adams praised WITT tutors "for helping me succeed"