TRP filling a 'big need' in community
Tahi Hiroki’s decades of experience in the agricultural industry made him the perfect candidate to step straight into a supervisory role with the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme.
For the past five years he was an agricultural tutor and for 20 before that out on farms. Now he is a supervisor and trainer for Eastland Tree Care who are part of the programme’s firewood initiative which has come out of the removal of hazardous trees project. Crews are working across the region to clear roads of hazardous trees, with all good wood brought back to bases where it is split into manageable sizes for firewood which will later be distributed to those who need it throughout the rohe.
Tahi and his team have worked at Te Puia and Matawai and have already dealt to around 140-tonnes of wood. “That’s a lot of wood,” he says. “It’s going to be enough to warm the community twice over I reckon!”
And there’s been plenty of interest in what he and his crew have been doing. “People are excited to know they will be getting free firewood.”
The father of seven and grandfather of five feels he has slotted right in to his new position. “It’s not that different to what I used to do but with a lot less students. There is a lot more focus on getting these fellas right up to scratch with their skills. I really enjoy being able to put my knowledge and skills into these new workers and get them ready for work. The challenge is a buzz but we all just want to progress them and get them prepped and ready to go.”
He said some of the workers faced extra challenges but the best way forward was to make every day as good as possible. “I try and support the guys through these other challenges,” says Tahi. “You don’t want to lose them when they have come so far. We look at what they have done and towards the future . . . this is especially for those who haven’t had work for a while. They are all so appreciative to have been given new skills and techniques to go forward. One didn’t even know how to start a chainsaw and now he is such a confident worker – that is a real highlight for me.
“They all say how much they appreciate the patience and opportunity to learn something new. There is always something for them to learn every day with so much involved.”
The new qualifications translate to unit standards within NZQA.
A key focus in preparing the crew for both their current and future work is around health and safety. “It is such a big thing for us as many have had nothing to do with health and safety before coming into the programme,” says Tahi who is also adding to his own CV with new qualifications in wheels, track and rollers as well as his class 5 truck licence and traffic control. “It all helps. At 50 – I am not a young fella anymore so I need to take what I can!”
He has plenty of praise for programme. “It is filling a big need in our community – it is great to see.”
Next stop for Tahi and his crew is Tolaga Bay to start a new site. “We certainly cover some miles with some early starts for us all, but it is so worth it for everyone isn’t it?”
The removal of hazardous tree project which is one of five that are part of the $23.755m Redeployment Programme established in response to the impact of COVID-19 and aims to provide work and training for up to 200 people.
The programme is funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, administered by the Provincial Development Unit and managed by Gisborne District Council. Everyone on the programme come through the Ministry of Social Development, with the goal of ensuring all not only find work but pick up new skills, qualifications and the opportunity of meaningful, long term employment.
For more information about the programme
Photo: Tahi Hiroki is putting his decades of experience to good use, training others on the Tairāwhiti Redeployment Programme with him.