Te Teko company helping rangatahi be work-ready

A New Zealand forestry training group in Te Teko is helping Māori youth to be work-ready in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Tane Mahuta forest managers have trained 135 rangatahi over four years for a career in forestry, now they're expanding.

D'Mani Bristowe-Rikihana is one of the 30 youths who are training and earning money in the forestry industry under Tane Māhuta Ltd.

Simon Geddes, co-director of Tāne Mahuta NZ Ltd, says, “Our kaupapa has been and still is to train and up-skill rangatahi to be able to work on their whenua.” 

The group is targeting the hardest to reach youths and sets them up in a 18 month 'Learn While You Earn' forestry training programme.

They are giving these youth a second chance, for some of them it's their last.

“I was getting into a lot of trouble and I just moved down from Auckland, just got locked up. So I just said 'this would be a good thing to keep me out of trouble',” says Bristow-Rikihana.

Geddes says, “When we came back here four years ago none of our rangatahi were working on our whenua.” 

Tane Māhuta is one of four groups in the Eastern Bay of Plenty who will receive funding under the Ministry of Employment's Poutama Rangatahi Fund.

Te Teko elder Hemana Eruera says, “From this funding, Poutama Rangatahi, it will honor the work being down by this group.”

They currently have youth from all over the Eastern Bay working at various sites in the forest, including some who have just come out of prison.

Wini Hahipene-Geddes, co-director of Tāne Mahuta NZ Ltd, says, “They have to be drug free, we talk to their probation officers to give them time off to switch their bracelets on and off so they can attend mahi.” 

Under the funding an extra 24 youth will be included in the program.