BJ Hetet award winner

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The winner of this year’s BJ Hetet award, Joby Gavan (Ngāti Awa), left school at 16 and followed in the steps of a mate to do a 30-week pre-trade plumbing programme at WITT. Little did he know he would go on to win the prestigious BJ Hetet award.

The award honours former staff member BJ Hetet who passed away in 2019.

“We created an award and scholarship to honour BJ’s memory and reflect his mana, values and aspirations for ākonga,” says WITT Lead Kaitakawaenga Māori and Pasifika, Scholarship Co-ordinator Allana Prestney.

The criteria for the award focuses on ākonga who have had to overcome challenges and adversity to complete their programme of study.

Joby’s perseverance stood out to the Kaitakawaenga Team who provide a range of cultural and pastoral support for Māori and Pasifika ākonga and walk alongside them from enrolment right through to graduation

“We saw Joby’s confidence grow – he thrived on the support our team offered him and it was encouraging to see his growth as a person,” says Allana.

His determination to complete the coursework component of his pre-trade qualification was outstanding, he was in every day to get it done and sought help when he needed it.

“When it came to the crunch he ticked all of the boxes for the award”, she adds.

Joby’s mum Penny Gavan said Joby never felt good about his schooling experience but at WITT he felt listened to and treated like a person.

“It turned his life around,” she says.

Overcoming a rocky first week Joby preserved as he was enjoying the programme and thought it was worth sticking it out.

“I enjoyed how the teachers and the staff treated me – they were really nice,” he says.

Joby is working towards getting a plumbing apprenticeship but hasn’t discounted further study.

“I’d definitely be back if I wanted to add a new trade or other skills.”

A fan of WITT, he recommends it to others saying: “It’s a helpful way to get a good career.”

The award is a highlight of the WITT Graduation Ceremony that took place on Thursday 15 February at the TSB Stadium. Joby received the award in front of his proud parents Penny and Mike and Nanna Christine.

Joby says he was excited, proud and really surprised to win the award.

“He didn’t know why he had to line up again when he’d already got his certificate,” laughed his proud Mum.

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