Raukawa kaumatua blessed the soon-to-be opened $14 million South Waikato Trades Training Centre in Tokoroa in a dawn ceremony last Saturday and gave the building a new name Pūkenga Rau.
Pūkenga derives from personal skill and ability development while Rau is a reference to the many people of South Waikato as well as rarau, the acquiring of knowledge, and Raukawa, the people of the rohe.
Speaking at the blessing, Amanda Hema, Chief Executive of South Waikato Investment Fund Trust (SWIFT), which has overseen the development of the project, said the Centre showcased the South Waikato community’s dedication to education and training.
Ms Hema said the genesis of the Centre was in 2007 when local engineers gathered to consider a collective response to staff shortages. The Waiariki Institute of Technology (today part of Toi Ohomai Te Pūkenga) tailored a qualification and programme with equipment donated by businesses and the Council and local high schools providing students.
Construction, carpentry and automotive industries followed suit, establishing pre-trade courses as local qualifications in 2008. Impressed by these initiatives, the Ministry of Youth Development gave South Waikato District Council a national award for commitment to youth training and education in 2008.
“Clearly those industry leaders recognised the power of collaboration and the potential of our local rangatahi, and the pitch for Government investment for the building began in 2018 when the Southern Waikato Economic Action Plan was developed.”
“Moving to today, the large workshops in the new Centre reflect those sectors that partnered so early on with trade training in our district but this wonderful facility will also cater beyond the trades. SWIFT is delighted that under the watch of Toi Ohomai Te Pūkenga, opportunities for more training and broader educational offerings will be made available to our community.”
Ms Hema said Raukawa Charitable Trust and the Council had been powerful advocates for the facility and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit – Kanoa invested about $11 million in the development. Trust Waikato also partnered to fund the Centre.
She said SWIFT Chair Stephen Veitch had for the last two years overseen much of the development, ensuring the building would meet community expectations. She also acknowledged project managers Veros, builders Marra and designers DCA Architects.