Juggling various jobs while studying and making time for a young family, is a tough grind. For Taru Kamo however, this challenging time has paid off. Of Cook Islands and Māori descent, Taru grew up in Auckland. He worked as an aluminium joiner and factory hand, but with Auckland’s house prices going through the roof, his plans to buy a home for his family never got off the ground.
So he packed up and moved with his partner Tuahine and four-year- old son Taylor to Hawke’s Bay. Here the couple bought a house and once settled in, they took the next step. Tuahine, a Radio Kahungunu presenter, pushed Taru to enrol in the level 3 carpentry programme at EIT although it meant making some financial cut-backs. Taru says, “It was also daunting to go back studying as I didn’t do well at high school. But everyone in my family just supported and pushed me.”
The 24-year-old received a Māori and Pasifika Trades Training Scholarship which covered the fees and provided pastoral care and support of a work broker. Taru always liked working with timber but only at EIT he then discovered his real passion for carpentry.
Studying soon became part of his daily routine. Taru particularly liked the fact that the course provided the right mix of theory and hands-on practical activities. The students built a whole house and gained a lot of life skills. Taru says that he is a perfectionist and “a fussy fellow” when it comes to fine details and workmanship. He built outdoor furniture and a garage for his own home as well as shelves and toy boxes for his son who observes his dad curiously and gives his little orders.
Taru’s carpentry tutor Tom Hay was another important person along the journey. “He helped us so much. He was also available during his days off and he always pushed us to finish the course.”
As part of the trades course, students must complete a 200-hour apprenticeship. Taru started his work experience with Simkin Construction in Napier. His hard work and enthusiasm recently saw him being offered a full-time apprenticeship. “I just signed the contract and I’m really happy.”
Taru’s advice for young people who are unsure of getting a qualification is “Just do it. What is there to lose? You might have to sacrifice time and money but it will always be worth the effort.”