Ngāti Rangi supports whānau transformation in Ruapehu

Published: 27 November, 2020

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  • Manawatū/Whanganui

A holistic iwi-owned recruitment service is supporting whānau in Ruapehu to achieve their aspirations, thanks to a $960,000 Te Ara Mahi investment managed by the Provincial Development Unit (PDU).

Project manager Erena Mikaere (Tuhourangi, Ngāti Whakaue) says the Te Ara Mahi Ruapehu Whānau Transformation programme owned by Ngāti Rangi has helped 97 people into employment so far this year.

"More than half of those roles are permanent. We try to focus on sustainable jobs and supporting families through seasonal positions where required," says Erena.

A number of employers – including the wider Ngāti Rangi iwi, the National Army Museum at Waiouru, Downers, plus a local pulp mill, college and dental centre – have used the employment and training service to grow their business.

"The iwi itself has employed 23 new staff in the last six months. This includes roles in executive leadership, environmental management, cultural advice, communications, project management, and a large number of health and wellbeing roles," says Erena.

The Te Ara Mahi Ruapehu Whānau Transformation programme is about providing support at any stage of life: from rangatahi looking for their first part-time roles, to adults supporting their families through the impacts of COVID-19 and kaumātua wanting to brush up on their digital skills.

"Part of our service is about helping whānau upskill and gain qualifications for a particular role, such as gaining a driver’s licence. But I think it’s the pastoral support that makes the biggest difference.

"For the whānau we work with, it can be really difficult to get a job on your own. We offer that complete package of support for our people and our community: mentoring, confidence building and financial support for further training."

Government investment in the programme has enabled Erena and her team to increase their network of local employers and develop fit-for-purpose systems, such as a database of programme participants and community partners.

"Funding has allowed us to lift our systems, to be more intentional and more agile with our support. It helps us target our services to the people who need it most,” says Erena.

"For example, we’re working with a group of whānau interested in pre-employment upskilling. Thanks to the support of the PDU we can work with local employers to establish their needs, design a programme to fit what they’re looking for, and respond to changes in the current context.

"Now we are working with Ngāti Hāua in Taumarunui to advertise for another kaimahi, so we can extend our reach to cover the whole Ruapehu district. That’s been our goal for a long time, and now we can make it happen."

A group of seven people standing alongside one another in a field.

Some of the 23 new team members employed by Ngāti Rangi, with support from the Ruapehu Whānau Transformation programme.