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Taratahi hosts Agricultural career weeks

June 30, 2020

The long wait has ended for training to recommence at south of Masterton. Career weeks are being offered for people to experience life on the land at Taratahi, and decide whether they want to learn more about working in the agricultural sector. The career weeks are free, including meals and accommodation, and start in late July 2020 through to mid-December 2020. 

UCOL Wairarapa and the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) are working together to provide the training, along with key Wairarapa agricultural representatives, Ngāti Kahungunu and Rangitāne. The three week taster courses start with a four day-three night “A career on the Farm” at Taratahi, where experienced industry representatives will work alongside UCOL and EIT training teams, and introduce farming skills such as working with farm vehicles, fencing, pasture management, cattle, sheep, and technology. There will also be visits to local farms and industry. Anyone is welcome to sign up, particularly those people whose employment has been affected by COVID-19.

Based on this experience, people can then choose to continue for a second week on topics such as dairy, ag contracting, apiculture, wool handling, silviculture, horticulture, sheep and beef, and then a third week covering agricultural vehicles and health and safety. This has the potential to lead to workplace training with the Primary ITO, or the opportunity to continue further training with an Institute of Technology and Polytechnic, such as UCOL or EIT.

UCOL Wairarapa Director Berni Pothan is appreciative of the huge amount of community and industry effort that has gone into making this happen. “Together with EIT we are keen to help the agricultural sector who have a real need for passionate and trained people. If you are thinking about your future and want to see what this is all about before making a commitment, then this is an ideal opportunity for you. Come along, give it a go, and see if it’s the life for you. The initiative is particularly in response to the impact that COVID-19 has had on many people who are looking for new career options.”

Dame Margaret Bazley, Chair of the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy Governance Group and the Wairarapa Regional Skills Leadership Group, is delighted that agricultural training will recommence at Taratahi. The Committees which are made up of the Mayors and Chairs of the District and Regional Councils, Leaders of Rangitāne and Kahungunu Iwi, and local business leaders, have worked to re-establish vocational training at Taratahi since it closed in 2018. “We are confident that we are establishing a firm base for vocational training across all industries in the Wairarapa for the years ahead.” Further work is underway to establish the training required by the Construction Industry and a workforce plan for the Wairarapa.

Robin Potangaroa, Chair of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki Nui-a-Rua Settlement Trust is happy and excited with the progress, and compliments all parties who have been able to bring about the re-starting of training at Taratahi.

Andy Freeman, Co-Chair of the Wairarapa Primary Sector Advisory Group (WPSAG) representing Primary Industries in the Wairarapa, is strongly supportive of the short course initiatives and the positive role for Taratahi. “We are working hard to maximise this unique opportunity for the Ag Industry to attract and retain new talent. We aim to connect newcomers and businesses with ongoing encouragement and support for thriving employees and employers – a springboard to positive growth for farming teams.” 

Kieran McAnulty, Labour Party List MP for the Wairarapa said “Taratahi has been a key part of Wairarapa’s identity for generations. Most families here have some connection with it. It hit us all very hard when agricultural training could no longer continue. So it is very exciting to hear we are on the verge of seeing things at Taratahi up and running again. A lot of hard work has been done to get to this point, and I particularly want to acknowledge UCOL and EIT for joining together to put Wairarapa once again at the heart of agricultural training.”

Registrations of interest are being taken through enquiry@ucol.ac.nz or by phoning 0800 GO UCOL 0800 468 265. 
A similar model is underway in the South Island, with SIT, at Telford.