Murupara - Work for Life Centre and Regional Digital Hub

Published: 12 April, 2024

Tagged with:

  • News and announcements
  • Bay of Plenty

Located in the Bay of Plenty, Murupara is a small town focussed on lifting work opportunities for its people. Limited education and training and a long history of limited employment opportunities has presented its challenges. Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Manawa Trust is determined to turn things around for their community.


Duration: 2:04

Carol Ngawati
Tēnā koutou katoa. Ko o te wahi o Ngāti Manawa. Our project today we're going to be looking at is a Te Ara Mahi project, the Work for Life Centre - Manawa Tu and the Digital Hub - Manawa Rere.

Maramena Vercoe
We thought about what we needed to do to be able to build a workforce, a skilled workforce, in Murupara - which goes against the grain. Murupara is often treated as an accident, that the people are useless, that they don't want to work, and that you don't go to Murupara if you don't have to. So we also were mindful of the fact that if we relied on the stories that other people told about us, that would cast us in a light that we who live here, know isn't right. So we needed to start building our own voice and building our own kōrero.

Tania Edwards
The community just say "Oh, my moko needs, you know, guidance. What are you doing up the runanga?" So, we take them and we show them. Just really seeing the change in their attitudes, and that - it's also been fantastic.

Maramena Vercoe
I can actually see people, in our community, who will be able to do my job in a few years time. And that to me... would be bloody good! [Laughter]

Maramena Vercoe
We began to build a belief around the fact that the answers are within our own people.

Maramena Vercoe
Three Musketeers!

Maramena Vercoe
We don't have swords, we just use this [mimics typing on a keyboard]

Tania Edwards
Ok done!

To tackle Murupara’s high unemployment rates and improve overall wellbeing in the community, the Manawa Tu - Work for Life Centre and Manawa Rere – Regional Digital Hub were established receiving approximately $2.7 million in grants from the Provincial Growth Fund.

Maramena Vercoe, Chief Executive Officer, highlights the challenge, “The negative statistic is that many of our people were unemployed. The unemployment statistic … was 27% unemployed.”

The community-based Work for Life Centre focuses on connecting the people of Murupara with employment opportunities by providing targeted training, pathways to employment, and pastoral care to assist local people looking to move into the workforce.

“Helping out our people, from school leavers through to pakeke (adults), build for themselves a work ethic and a process for work that actually transforms their lives - and transforms the lives of their families.”

The work being done at the facility is already showing results and promise for the future. “One of the other outcomes from this project that we were really pleased about was the number of employers that came to us for their recruiting,” said Tania Edwards, Project Operations Manager.

“And what was also surprising was that most of the employers told us all we want you to do is provide workers who will turn up to work reliably [and are drug free], we’ll teach them the rest.”

The digital hub within the Work for Life Centre was established to provide improved digital opportunities and capability to the community and businesses. Digital connectivity was a key area for government investment into the regions and seen as critical for their economies, wellbeing, and productivity.

Some of the training in the Digital Hub managed by Ima Nuku includes learning how to use software such as Photoshop, as well as learning the basics of animation. The students have even participated in an E-Sports event – which they won.

“It’s heart-warming to know that plans we set in place 3 to 4 years ago have actually been achieved and delivered, what I’ve learnt… there’s still so much more to do.”

Ngāti Manawa are currently in the planning stages of an outreach programme, looking to broaden the support of the Work for Life Centre and Digital Hub to Kaingaroa Village.

We look forward to seeing what the future holds for Murupara and its people.