Fire protection service pathways for rangatahi

Published: Sep 22, 2020

Tagged with:

  • News and announcements
  • Northland/Te Tai Tokerau

Tupu Ake is a career pathway initiative based in Northland that aims to support at-risk young people into sustainable employment in the forestry management industry.

Three people wearing fire protection gear in the middle of the forest.

Eruera Carrington is pictured (facing the camera in yellow) on the job with Fire Protection Services.

Fire Protection Services (FPS) crew member Eruera Carrington (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine) admits he probably wasn’t thinking about his professional development a couple years ago. 

"I’d probably have been on the couch, no qualifications, broke – just jamming a game," says Mr Carrington.

But since he joined Tupu Ake and began working and training as a skilled forestry worker, he says he’s got a reason to keep moving forward and has set goals for himself.

"Seeing the boys go to Australia on fire-fighting deployments, and coming back better makes me want to go too," says Mr Carrington.

"For now, I can put on good music and keep up the positive mood for me and my crew while I keep at it and prove that I can earn that trust."

Eru is one of 40 young people over two years who have been supported by a $983,400 He Poutama Rangatahi investment in the Tupu Ake career pathway initiative, managed by FPS.

FPS managing director, Kevin Ihaka, says the Tupu Ake programme made sense for his business and the forestry industry, which has historically relied on overseas labour.

"I don’t believe there is a labour shortage in forestry. I believe there is a shortage of pathways to good careers, and a shortage of good working conditions," says Mr Ihaka.

The Tupu Ake programme provides this career pathway as well as sustained pastoral support that has a heavy focus on building life skills, connecting with the community, and exploring personal and cultural identity – while offering paid work.

This holistic approach to personal development has meant that career changers such as Taylor Neho (Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Tūhoe) have also found rewarding outcomes by participating in the programme.

Tupu Ake has supported Mr Neho to participate in two deployments in Australia, while also providing access to budgeting and saving advice.

"Getting consistent pay checks and talking about Kiwisaver made me think about things," says Mr Neho, who recently established his own home on family land.

"I wouldn’t be where I am today without learning about these options and having the opportunities to see more."

A young man is holding an orange microphone at an airport.

Taylor Neho speaks with Māori Television as a Tupu Ake member that provided assistance for firefighting crews in Australia.