Te Uru Rākau welcomes first recruits in mānuka training programme

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Julie Collins, Head of Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) congratulates Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust on the commencement yesterday of its mānuka plantation training programme Nga Māhuri o Ngāti Hine, calling this a significant step forward for forestry and employment in Northland.

"It's excellent to see the programme move to the next step and also to see such strong interest," Julie Collins said.

The programme is a partnership between the Trust and Te Uru Rākau, funded from the One Billion Trees Fund with the goal of training rangitahi to develop forestry sector careers in the region.  

The programme, which was oversubscribed with first-year applicants, will run in 2019 and 2020 and there are 20 places in this year's intake. The first recruits attended a pōwhiri yesterday as part of their induction.

"This is a great sign for this project and for the work we are doing more broadly in the forestry sector and in Northland," Julie Collins said.

The new recruits range from age 15 to 52. During the 16-week programme, they will be taught through a mix of field work and small group learning. The trainees will build real forestry knowledge from working in te ngahere (forest), supporting them into long-term employment in the forestry sector.

Yesterday, these new recruits expressed enthusiasm for a programme that allows them to earn money while they're training.

"This is significant for the trainees and their whanau, being able to train and earn in their home region and keep those skills and income in Northland," Julie Collins said.

She acknowledged the work that has gone in to the project by Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust.

"They have worked closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries' sector partnerships team to develop a quality programme that may well be a model for others to follow."

Nga Māhuri o Ngāti Hine was set up last year. The objectives of the planting and training programme are the attainment of NZQA qualifications and full time meaningful employment.

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