Construction of the new $14 million South Waikato Trades Training Centre in Tokoroa received the official blessing of Raukawa kaumātua Te Hapuku Rikiriki and Poihaere Barrett in a ceremony today attended by representatives from the district’s diverse cultures.
Raukawa Charitable Trust Tumu Whakarae (General Manager) Maria Te Kanawa said it was a momentous occasion for the iwi to bless the site on the corner of State Highway 1 and Chambers St at the northern entrance to Tokoroa.
“The Trades Training Centre will enable many South Waikato rangatahi to train here in Tokoroa without having to travel out of the district away from the support of their whānau.”
More than 80 people attended the blessing including Raukawa and South Waikato District Council officials and representatives from the local Pasifika communities as well as from local schools.
The South Waikato Trades Training Centre and an adjacent office building are being funded through SWIFT, a community-owned economic development fund dedicated to South Waikato’s prosperity, with grants from the Provincial Growth Fund, Trust Waikato and SWIFT.
SWIFT Chairperson Bruce Sherman said the Trades Training Centre was being developed alongside Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology which will be the training provider. The Centre will cater for up to 500 students a year.
“We have strongly encouraged South Waikato tradespeople and building suppliers to tender for this work to help the local economy and to provide job and learning opportunities.”
The Centre will be a combined 3,500m2 of learning, four workshops and staff space with a commercial kitchen, café and barber shop. It will also have a space allocated for a digital and entrepreneurial hub to help address the digital divide and assist young people into their own businesses.
South Waikato District Council Mayor Jenny Shattock said the new Trades Training Centre was an excellent example of the South Waikato education, business and local government sectors working together to help the district thrive and grow economically and socially.
“The Centre’s location near State Highway 1 will provide a fabulous new gateway to the northern entrance to Tokoroa and will complement the recent town centre redevelopment.
“This event is a key milestone as we pause to reflect on the journey so far, and to receive Raukawa blessing for the journey ahead to train local people for their work futures.”
Toi Ohomai Board of Directors Chairperson, Catherine Cooney, said the new campus will help breathe life into the community and it was exciting to see this initiative come to fruition after all the planning.
Cooney acknowledged the collaborative work that happened behind the scenes and said she was honoured to be part of the site blessing ceremony.
“This campus will enable more students to develop their skills in the community. Local employers need more skilled workers and this new campus will help bridge that gap.
“We look forward to seeing the build progressing and once opened, to help provide a skilled workforce to see this great community prosper.”