Ready for action: Working towards a career in the services are,
Front – from left: Tiahuia Turei, Kodi Campbell, Holly Brown, Waata Shepherd (tutor), Fritha Rau, Jack Parker
Back – from left: Tikiko Viqasi, Lucretia Taitapanui, Tutira Poi, Clint Easton, Antarge Lloyd, Aaron McKay and Ricky Neilson-Philips
After 18 weeks of intensive training led by former Gisborne District Police Commander Superintendent Waata Shepherd, 14 EIT students are geared up to follow careers in the services.
Seven of them plan to join the police, some already well underway with their applications, two are aiming for the Fire Service, three for the Army and two for the Airforce.
All have reached the standards required for entry, thanks to the Services Pathway programme provided by EIT Tairawhiti.
This involved some serious “boot camp” training in the form of daily sessions of high intensity fitness programmes. There were literacy and numeracy classes for those who dropped out of maths or English at school, as well as sessions on computing and communication.
But the big motivating factor were numerous live presentations organised by Waata Shepherd with his previous colleagues from the police and Fire Service, including sessions for some on police dog handling at the Race Course.
One of the most inspiring of their guests was Constable Joe Kim, who came here from Korea and struggled to get into the police force because English was his second language. After failing to get in the first time, and with support from the Turanga Adult Literacy Programme, Constable Kim put himself through a lot of courses in order to meet the entry criteria and graduate from the Police Training College. This made him the epitome of the sort of perseverance required, said Mr Shepherd.
Students were also introduced to recruitment officers from all the services, giving them a personal insight into the processes involved.
As a mark of the calibre of the programme, there was a 100 percent retention rate, with all of the students expected to pass their Level 3 NZ Certificate in Study and Career Preparation – Services Pathway with at least 90 percent, and all of them motivated to continue the journey.
Their tutor Waata Shepherd was delighted with the outcome.
“I really enjoyed being part of this,” he said.
After 38 years in the Police Force, including a number of years at national level, Mr Shepherd said it was his passion to come back and help inspire promising young people to join the services.
The department was looking for more recruits, especially in Gisborne so the strategy to meet that need here was high on the radar.
He thanked EIT for investing in the programme and making it possible.
Campus director Jan Mogford said the outcome had been fantastic, thanks to the support from EIT staff, Study Link, Turanga Adult Literacy, staff from Gisborne Police, Army and the Fire Service and the great leadership of Waata Shepherd.
Police Area commander Inspector Sam Aberahama said it was great Waata had returned to Gisborne to invest in something he was really passionate about.
“He is a taonga,” he said.
Gisborne police were there for him.
“Even if he rings at the last minute we are there for him.”
Like Mr shepherd, he urged the students to persevere to the next milestone.
“We will be there to support you but you have to set the goals and do the hard yards,” he said.
Likewise, Mr Shepherd said he and other EIT staff would continue to be there for the students through the application and selection process.
“If there are any problems we will help you sort them out.”