The reasons she was given, she says, were about gender, but the determined 32-year-old wasn’t about to be deterred and her perseverance has paid off.
Graham Scarfe Builder Ltd offered Casey the opportunity she was looking for, and now, working full-time for the company, she is on track to securing a carpentry apprenticeship.
EIT tutor Tom Hay says Casey wasn’t the norm for a Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Carpentry) student, the norm being “a young fellow just out of high school”.
However, she was one of four women on the programme – which has intakes in February and July – and Tom says the local building industry needs more female role models like her.
Living in Taradale, Casey and husband Reese have four children aged between two to seven.
The Ngāti Kahungunu couple have a plan for getting ahead and it was with that in mind that they both enrolled at EIT.
Reese recently completed the first year of the Level 6 Diploma in Architectural Technology and once he gains his qualification he wants to work at a job that will allow him to give back to his community.
Managing the demands of family life, Casey notched up a good attendance record at EIT. And while on work experience she tackled some hard physical jobs including jack-hammering out concrete.
“She’s really determined,” Tom says and Graham Scarfe, whose family company employs 25 staff, agrees.
“She’s going to be a top apprentice,” Graham enthuses. “She has got a hard road to achieve that and she’s going to do it.”
Like Casey, he’s picked up on outdated attitudes towards women working on construction sites and says there’s no need for it – from builders or from clients.
While Casey found that mind-set disheartening, she says she had no option other than to succeed.
“We have four kids at home and a mortgage, bailing wasn’t an option.”
Like Reese, Casey likes to give back to the community. With Tom’s guidance and using offcuts from the trades programme, she and a friend recently built a rabbit hutch for the kōhanga reo on Waiohiki marae.
Outside of work, she enjoys time with whānau and keeps active with boxing, cycling, Iron Māori and waka ama.