Ngāti Kahungunu's $20k offer to tradies overseas goes viral

By Marena Mane

A novel new plan to bring tradies back to Aotearoa from overseas has gone viral.

K3 Kahungunu Property is offering $20,000 for any qualified tradies to come home, and be part of a plan to build hundreds of homes for local whānau.

Aayden Clarke, a former New Zealand Rugby Union player and the CEO of K3 Kahungunu Property, says this initiative was created to address the labour shortage in Kahungunu. “This is just our best attempt to try and bring some extra talent home to assist us to build hundreds of homes,” he says.

Clarke says that despite the advert only being up for a few days, over 30 applications have been received and the selection process will be difficult. “Even reading through some of the entries on why they want to return to Aotearoa and be a part of the K3 kaupapa has been incredibly rewarding,” he says.

According to Clarke, the long-term vision and what it will look like in the future are still being worked out. However, it is all about getting started and finding answers to the problem of a shortage of "skilled labourers, carpenters, and tradespeople."

He says, “Hopefully we'll get support and be on a roll because there's no doubt in my mind that we're going to need many more to come.”

Who is eligible?

According to Clarke, anyone that has the “right skill set,” and an understanding of the kaupapa is eligible to apply.

Aotearoa has a housing crisis, so Clarke says they're looking for experienced tradespeople to help with apprenticeships and educate rangatahi, as well as help them start their own business or work for one of Kahungunu's firms.

“Many of the applicants have vast amounts of skills and over 30 years; experience in construction so, if we're able to bring them home, then they're able to teach, as well as play a part in the construction process,” he says.

Why move home?

Yes, the pay is greater in Australia, but Clarke says it's about being closer to whanau, raising tamariki in a Te Ao Māori setting, living in a beautiful land, and, of course, Covid-19.

Clarke says, “Covid restrictions are starting to really affect whānau, so they're looking to come home. The purpose of this is really to provide them with a softer landing to help with those relocation costs to bring them home and just make it more achievable.”

Making it an 'iwi initiative'

Because the housing crisis is a larger issue, Clarke aims to share the Kahungunu building model or effort with other iwi. The Kahungunu focus is on expanding Māori skills, business, and building homes, and it is pleased with its kaupapa.

“We have an opportunity here to really influence and lead intergenerational change here. My job is to be the captain of the team and make sure everybody is able to flourish and really listen and work with our stakeholders.”

“We have a lot of stakeholders in among us that we're all trying to achieve the same goal, and that's getting people out of motels, out of sleeping in their cars and into warm homes that they can be proud of, which has more ripple effects than just having a roof over your head.”