Vocational award winners attend WITT Te Pūkenga

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Five of this year’s 12 Prime Minister’s Awards for Vocational Excellence went to ākonga who studied at WITT Te Pūkenga this year.

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 industry.

“It is wonderful to see the success of ākonga choosing vocational pathways. The Secondary Tertiary Pathways (STP) team would like to congratulate them on this award in recognition of all their hard work. We’re particularly heartened to recognise that many of the winners spent time at WITT Te Pūkenga this year,” says WITT Director, Teaching Partnerships Ben Naughton.

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 from each of the region’s school or wharekura enrolled in vocational programmes of learning.

2022 Taranaki Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Award Winners

Pātea Area School

Matthew Dixon has been participating in Gateway for the past two years, working at a local Engineering company, where he gained the praise and commendation of his employers. In 2023, Matthew aims to attend the Auckland University of Technology or WITT Te Pūkenga studying for a Bachelor of Technology, in Engineering.

Hāwera High School

Ben Savage was an exceptional kitchen joinery Gateway student. He has been offered an apprenticeship by his employer, Hawera Kitchens.

Opunake High School

Kyla Coleman has been an outstanding student in Gateway for the past two years, displaying a hardworking and positive attitude in all that she does.

She has completed the Level 2 and Level 3 Trades Academy Agriculture courses at WITT Te Pūkenga and is studying Agriculture at Massey University in 2023.

Coastal Taranaki School

Aliya Fever has demonstrated a keen and determined interest in the Primary industry sector. She has chosen subjects to support this pathway and has participated successfully in a Trades Academy programme in Agriculture, NCEA level 2 and 3 over the past 2 years.

In 2022 Aliya went on to successfully complete a Level 3 programme.  Aliya intends to continue to follow her passion in the Primary sector by enrolling in full-time at WITT Te Pūkenga in 2023

Taranaki Diocesan School
This year Paige has connected with the Primary ITO and has been studying both Agriculture and Equine Studies.

She is an exemplary student who manages the challenges of learning offsite for two days a week with her academic in-class studies.

Paige’s aspiration for the future is a career working with horses – especially in the handling area.

Inglewood High School

Sydney Fisher has a passion for the culinary arts and has been both a WITT Te Pūkenga Trades Academy and 3+2 Cookery student, completing her NZ Certificate in Cookery Level 3 this year. A school Student Leader, Sydney also received the award for Inglewood High School's best all-round student in Year 13 Food Technology.

Sydney is a talented painter and chef and she aspires to one day own her own business. In 2023, her intention is to gain more hands-on experience and begin study towards a qualification in Hospitality Management at the Queenstown Resort College.

Waitara High School

Ani Butler is a Year 12 student. During Term 3, Ani attended a work experience placement at Taranaki Electrical Services and has worked alongside their team, assisting them with electrical jobs on site. She completed the Trades Academy Electrical (Level 2) course at WITT Te Pūkenga.

Ani is hoping to gain an apprenticeship in the electrical industry at the end of her school year.

Spotswood College

In 2020, Journey Tutaki was awarded the Most Improved Automotive Trades Academy student. This achievement further ignited his passion and from here he set himself clear goals to pursue a pathway in the automotive industry. 


He has completed two MITO micro-credentials over the past two years, finishing both the Level 2 Ignition and Level 3 Accelerate programs. Obtaining these qualifications was supported by his practical Gateway placement at MIDAS, New Plymouth. 


Sacred Heart Girls’ College

Ella Clement is involved in many activities and pursuits and she excels at all of them. In Pathways, Ella has been a Gateway student, a Trades Academy student and an E2E (Engineering) student. For Gateway, Ella completed a placement at Whitaker Civil. She was primarily involved with constructing penguin access tunnels at Port Taranaki.

Ella has had a focus on the Defence Forces where she has recently been selected for Officer training as an engineer.

Francis Douglas Memorial College

The 2022 Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Award was awarded to Lenny Chapman.  Lenny gained this through the Francis Douglas Memorial College Career Pathway Programme.  He is courteous, reliable and is what we refer to as ‘a good college man’. Lenny gained a building apprenticeship with LA Homes.

New Plymouth Girls’ High School

Emily Lord has a dream of graduating from NPGHS in 2022 so she can pursue her lifetime passion of a career in aviation. She has completed her Private Pilot Licence in her Trades class.

 A quote from her flight instructor James Finlayson:

“Emily has completed all 6 examinations required for a Private Pilot Licence. She has shown that she is a dedicated, studious, and intelligent young lady who has a goal of being a professional pilot, which I am sure she will achieve.”

New Plymouth Boys’ High School

Sean Robinson is an outstanding young man with an incredibly bright future in the building industry.  He worked with Manor Build as part of our Gateway Programme and immediately impressed with his work ethic and initiative.  At the completion of the placement, they offered him part-time work and now that school has finished he continues to “clock up the hours” with them.  Sean is seeking a building apprenticeship for 2023.



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