Learning the tools of the trade
Aaron has a background in youth work, but grew up around tools and often helped his stepfather around the workshop as a kid.
There has been incredible support within the Otago Polytechnic crew and the course
Aaron Jones is proud to have received a Rūnaka scholarship for his contributions to community and rangatahi.
“It is an honour,” says Aaron, whose whakapapa connects back to Puketeraki Marae and Ngāi Tahu.
Only in the last three years have I gone on a journey of reconnecting with my whakapapa. It was great to find a photo of one of my great-grandads, William Harper, in Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. His wife was Mere Harper, who helped found Plunket in Karitane.
“I grew up in Auckland, as did my dad. When my wife and I relocated to Dunedin it felt like I was coming back home. A special moment was walking around Karitane with my wife and 1-year-old daughter.”
Aaron is studying the New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Level 3) as part of the He Toki Pre-Trade Training programme.
Delivered by Otago Polytechnic and Ara Institute, He Toki is a collaborative indigenous model of education that brings together iwi, industry, educational institutions, community organisations and government agencies.
“After school I entered into the world of youth work, which I have been heavily involved in for the last 10 years, mostly working with vulnerable young people in south Auckland. I spent the last three years working as a youth worker in South Dunedin," he says.
I am at the beginning of my course in the carpentry trade, so am currently learning the foundations. We have just started to build a house, which is a great way to put the theory into practice.
Aaron also has previous experience running a small business, and says he looks forward to combining the skills of his past with the skills he is learning now.
A highlight of his studies so far has been the support shown by his peers and lecturers, particularly during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“I was so impressed with how everyone supported one another, especially our class lecturers, Mark and Will, who provided solid learning and kept us busy over that period."
And, he says, there are great systems to support students who may be struggling.
It really does feel like a big family. Our He Toki class starts and finishes the day with a karakia, which brings us together and also gives us that space to slow down and refocus. Also, the team at Te Punaka Owheo has provided more connection - as well as some kai.
Get the skills and support you need to succeed in the construction industry in Te Waipounamu. With He Toki, you'll be supported to gain a New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Level 3) in Carpentry or Infrastructure* - but with a difference. You’ll get a unique and empowering learning experience that has te reo, tikaka and mentorship at the heart of everything. This programme is perfect for you if you identify as Māori or Pasifika, are 16-40 years old and want to learn and earn in a practical, hands-on environment. (*Infrastructure only offered at our Central Otago Campus).