A partnership between Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated and EIT, Te Ara o Takitimu supports Māori and Pasifika aged between 16 and 40 into trades training.
The scheme has achieved that for Te Cohney. Early this year, he began an apprenticeship at Unison, training as a lines mechanic while completing level 3 certificate studies at EIT.
Ngati Kahungunu, Te Cohney grew up in Wairoa and has many memories of events at Taihoa marae. Qualifying as a plasterer, he and his partner Tessa Dodge settled into life in Taradale.
However, he started to feel that a change in career path was long overdue.
“I wanted to go in a totally different direction while still working in the trades. Lee Kershaw, the coordinator for Te Ara o Takitimu, was key to me gaining the scholarship.
“It was quite daunting,” Te Cohney says of starting at EIT as a mature student mid-last year. I’d been out of school 12 years and I didn’t like the thought of going back.”
While he found it quite hard “to turn the brain back on” and to sit in a classroom rather than work outdoors, he soon adjusted to student life.
“I was the youngest of the oldest on campus,” he jokes.
Tutor Harley Benton helped ease the move back into learning – “he’s a good teacher, and he made the programme a lot more interesting.”
Working full-time while studying is challenging, Te Cohney says, but he doesn’t doubt that he’s made the right decision. “EIT,” he says, “gave me the opportunity to move in a different direction.”