Taranaki schools celebrate vocational excellence

Published on

Taranaki secondary schools acknowledge this year’s recipients of the Prime Minister’s Award for Vocational Excellence.

“This award recognises outstanding students enrolled in vocational programmes who have shown they have what it takes to develop the skills, knowledge and attributes they need to perform a specific role and build a career in an industry,” says Careers and Transition Education Association (CATE) Executive Member for Taranaki, Warwick Foy.

Introduced in 2019, the Prime Minister’s Award for Vocational Excellence, and the $2,000 monetary prize, can be awarded to the top Year 12 or 13 secondary student enrolled in vocational programmes of learning. One student is eligible per school or wharekura.

“The purpose of the award is to enhance parity of esteem for non-university tertiary pathways such as polytechnics, apprenticeships and work-place training. In the fifth year of the award, it has evolved, especially in Taranaki. We have schools that have introduced cups for the award and they are placing it nearer to the bigger prizes. This is great as young people can have huge success in non-university tertiary pathways and deserve recognition for this,” says Foy.

Taranaki is the only region that collectively recognises award winners. Foy hopes that other regions will follow suit.

2023 Taranaki Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Award Winners

Patea Area School
Riria Ejay Helen Christein Wright is the winner of the 2023 Prime Minister’s Vocational Award for Patea Area School. Riria transferred to Patea Area School in September 2021 and since then has immersed herself into the culture of our school family, displaying all the qualities of our school values of Manaakitanga – Generosity, Respect, Kindness; Kaitiakitanga – Guardianship, Sustanibility, Protection; Rangatiratanga – Self Determination, Leadership, Mana. Riria has always strived to excel in all aspects of school life showing leadership and an eagerness to learn. Riria has been participating in Gateway this year which saw Patea Area School piloting the Noel Leeming Programme for Taranaki. During Riria’s work placement she learnt important skills in line with industry standards including effective communication, personal presentation, product knowledge, technology expertise and teamwork, which she excelled in. A prefect in 2022 and 2023, Riria has gained part time work and is saving to support herself next year during her tertiary education.

Te Pae Pae O Aotea
This year’s recipient is Charlie Wolland. Charlie had a great year working at Paul Jones Construction. He has shown, responsibility, reliability, and a willingness to learn. Next year Charlie is returning to school to complete his NCEA Level 3 before joining the workforce. We are very proud of all his achievements this year.

Opunake High School
Rylan Cremen is a Year 13 student who has excelled in Gateway, completing his work placement at DeLaval Farm Services, displaying a positive, humble and hard-working attitude. Rylan has led our popular OHS Barista crew, keeping staff well caffeinated and has shown initiative, passion and great people skills! Rylan has well considered his options for next year, with a local apprenticeship offer, as well as full time course at WITT Te Pūkenga. But, he has decided to take up a painting and decorating apprenticeship in Masterton, where he will no doubt build a successful career in the trades.

Coastal Taranaki School
Deakin's Phillips-Sinto’s excellence has been demonstrated by his commitment and enthusiasm towards his passion in the Motor Vehicle Trades sector. This excellence has been noted by Deakin’s tutors at WITT Te PūKenga and teachers at Coastal Taranaki School and is illustrated by a high level of attendance and achievement. Deakin is a very industrious and determined student who has willingly participated in studies and activities in and around Automotive studies for the past two years. As a Level 2 student he is currently participating and achieving in Level 2 programmes. His exceptional ability to develop and build on skills in the Automotive industry pathway is driven by a genuine passion for car mechanics both at Home and in Trades Academy programmes. Over the past two years, he has demonstrated knowledge of engineering equipment, components and how to perform basic machining, fabrication and welding techniques. Deakin has learnt about workshop practices, hazardous materials and knowledge of tools and equipment in an automotive workshop. He has also performed wheel balancing, general automotive engineering and learnt about components and petrol fuel systems. Under supervision, Deakin is able to disassemble and reassemble an engine.

Stratford High School
Amber Cox was awarded the Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Award for 2023. She successfully achieved 46 credits since February while undertaking a Gateway placement with Energy Vets Taranaki in Inglewood. To achieve these credits, she has attended Health and Safety and Advanced First Aid Courses, completed Primary Industry unit standards through Telford and online Animal Care units with Southern Institute of technology Te Kūpenga. Her academic work, time management and self-direction skills to complete this work have been exemplary. In school this year, she has been secretary of the student council, house leader of Amess, member of the school sports council and has been a key member of the school TeenAg Club of which she helped establish and coached Year 9 and 10 Netball teams. Outside of school, she volunteers at Lake Rotokare Reserve working bees, umpires for Netball Taranaki and was awarded Most Improved Umpire for Centre Badged Umpiring for 2023. She is a member of the Taranaki Quad Bikes and Central Taranaki Young Farmers Clubs and still finds time to work on the family farm. Working on the family farm ignited her passion to learn, understand and help large animals. This year that led to Amber securing her own Gateway work experience at Energy Vets Taranaki where the team there have been so impressed by her entire work ethic that she has already secured work there while she starts her Diploma studies in Rural Animal Veterinary Technology next year.

Taranaki Diocesan School
Shanika Spragg was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Vocational Excellence.

Inglewood High School
Ethan Brocklehurst has participated in the Inglewood High School Gateway programme for two years, completing work experience at the Inglewood Golf Club where he made a valued contribution as Greens Assistant. In his own time, he has also spent many hours contributing to the Inglewood Cricket Club as Pitch Curator. The skills and knowledge he has gained both through this practical experience and relevant study mean he is confident in his decision to pursue a qualification and career in Sports Turf Management in 2024. A Whānau Leader and Sports Captain at Inglewood High School in 2023, Ethan knows how to set goals and he has shown he has the focus and determination necessary to achieve them. He has the aptitude and attitude necessary for success in his chosen field and we wish him well.

Waitara High School
Waitara High’s Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Award recipient is Year 12 Ashton Oakes. Ashton is a positive and friendly young man who always works hard. He has consistently related well to his peers and teachers, demonstrating his strength as a team member who is always reliable, polite and dedicated and consistently won awards in both Metal Technology and Wood Technology since Year 9. He is constantly positive and practical. This year, Ashton has completed work experience with EnergyWorks. In this Gateway placement, Ashton has worked so well that there that he has been offered an apprenticeship starting in 2024.

Spotswood College
The Spotswood College Prime Ministers Vocational Excellence recipient for 2023 is Harry Harkness. Harry was a very deserved winner of the prestigious award after two years of dedicated and carefully planned career-based study through the New Plymouth co-ed schools Vocational Pathways department. The Year 12 student was an integral team member, and awarded top student, in his Level 2/3 Engineering Trades Academy course. The very popular and publicly celebrated Build a Trailer course at WITT Te Pūkenga helped to develop his practical skills and industry knowledge. He also completed a highly successful Gateway work experience placement at Coastal Services in New Plymouth, with his dedicated and eager to learn attitude seeing him obtain full time employment. Harry has completed a number of industry specific Industry Training Organisation courses to support him reach his career goals, completing both his Level 2 and 3 NCEA qualifications during his Year 12 schooling. He has shown a fantastic attitude to make the most of the opportunities afforded to him and we are all very proud of his growth, development and achievement. Harry speaks highly of the real-world context opportunities on offer in vocational study and is very proud of his accomplishments that have fast tracked his career in engineering.

Sacred Heart Girls’ College
Myah Newton is a fabulous Sacred Heart wāhine toa. She is innovative, resilient and hard-working. She has a lovely, warm personality with exemplary manners. Myah’s senior years at high school have been dotted with many highlights. Her Pathway to Beauty Therapy began with a WITT Year 11 Star course in 2022. Myah thrived on the course and literally found her passion. For Year 12, she designed her own timetable which included Trades Academy Salon and 3+2 Makeup and Skincare. 3+2 is normally for Year 13 students but WITT welcomed Myah because they could see the talent and drive that she had. Myah’s CV was starting to look rather good at the start of 2023 so she applied for a job at the Caci Clinic. Up against some older and very capable girls, she won the job and has been very successful there. Paid employment helped to cement the idea of a beauty career pathway for Myah.
Myah faced some battles on the 3+2 course. Being a year younger than everyone else and having some of her old learning challenges return, she had to fight. Fight she did and with the wonderful supportive staff at WITT Te Pūkenga and her admirable resolve, Myah made it through the course. Most girls stay until Year 13 at our school. However, sometimes it’s not how high you fly but where you jump off that counts. Myah has got what she needs from school and she has a plan. She will leave school at the end of Year 12 and become a full time beauty student at WITT Te Pūkenga. Myah has been a superb role model for vocational education pathways and she is a deserving recipient of the 2023 Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Award. All of us who have worked with Myah at school and at WITT Te Pūkenga are so proud of what she has achieved.

Francis Douglas Memorial College
Will Julian has been an outstanding student this year in our Francis Douglas Memorial College Careers Pathway Programme. He has been an exceptional Gateway Hospitality Student, who clearly has a real passion for this industry. Will has also been a WITT Te Pūkenga Trades Academy student completing 3+2 NZ Certificate in Cookery Level 3. Will’s motivation, work ethic and attitude at his work experience placement were a real credit to him. He demonstrated all the skills and attributes that are needed to enable him to succeed in the workplace. He is courteous, reliable and is what we refer to as ‘A Good College Man’.

New Plymouth Girls’ High School
As a Year 11 student, Te’a Kemp clearly identified her desire to become a Forestry Manager as her main career pathway and she has never drifted away from this direction. Her Gateway placement in 2023 as Year 13 student convinced Te’a that she was destined to forge a career in a male-dominated environment, by pursuing a degree at University of Canterbury in Bachelor of Science - majoring in Forestry.

New Plymouth Boys’ High School
Ryan McNab is an outstanding young man with an incredibly bright future. He worked with ICE Electrical for Gateway and had great success. The feedback from his placement employer told us his communication, punctuality, and ability to complete tasks given was exceptional. As a result, Ryan has been offered an apprenticeship that he has accepted.

Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki is part of Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology Learn more

Learn with purpose

Explore Te Pukenga

Te Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa - New Zealand Government

Te Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa - New Zealand Government

Copyright © 2024 Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki