Fri 27 Sep 2019

Students proud to give to Taranaki Retreat

Motivation, pride, and purpose are some of the words WITT Trades Academy students used to describe the feeling of completing their latest construction project. The group of 10 students planned, built and donated much-needed outdoor furniture to the Taranaki Retreat, a place set up as a time-out space for anyone to stay when times are tough.

“I feel like it’s nice for people who don’t have confidence, or don’t believe in themselves, to have a random group of people do something nice for them,” 16-year-old student Mackenzie Hill said.

“It makes you pretty sad when you don’t know how to help someone. When we knew we were donating these picnic tables, I felt more motivated to get them done. There was a real purpose to our work.”

Jamie Allen and his family set up the retreat at the beginning of 2017, and have since helped over 4,000 people. Jamie visited students in the construction workshop on Thursday morning to kōrero, share the Taranaki Retreat kaupapa, and accept the gifted picnic tables.

“I feel this huge sense of pride that Taranaki has done this – created Taranaki Retreat. It is the only place of its kind in New Zealand. Everything here is free. Everything in this place – the land, the food, the plants – has all been a gift.

“The community here continues to demonstrate how much they care – because they build these things. To be able to go back and show people these tables, I can tell them, ‘these were made for you by a group of students at WITT’. What that really says to them is, ‘hey, these guys care about you’.”

“These are healing things that you’ve made here. Feel proud, and know that it’s going to make a difference to people, even if you never get to meet them.”

WITT tutor Chris Gibson said that students took pride in seeing how their work could help other people.

“There could be a conversation that happens around these tables that saves someone’s life,” he said.

Trades Academy students come to WITT from local high schools at least one day a week over several terms and gain NCEA credits in an area relevant to their chosen career path.