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Multiple gains from tree-clearing project

The Eastland Tree Clearance Project has been a life-changing experience for the 25 people who took part, with a number going on to secure full-time employment or apprenticeships.

The graduates received certificates acknowledging the work done and skills gained through the project at a special celebration.

The project was a collaboration between Eastland Group, regional lines company Eastland Network and local tree contractors Advanced Tree Solutions and Eastland Tree Care.

It was part of the $23.755 million Tairawhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme, which employed 236 displaced workers.

The intention was to redeploy people who were out of work, unemployed or under-employed due to the impact of Covid-19.

The overall programme was managed by Gisborne District Council.

The Eastland Group project team carefully matched candidates with employers, and training was provided throughout.

As a result, eight people have full-time jobs, five of those with the contractors and three elsewhere.

Another three have started arborist apprenticeships.

The project team are working with the remaining candidates to secure positions.

Project participants have upgraded their driver's licences, as well as getting licences for wheels, tracks and rollers.

They received training in first aid, with qualifications in Growsafe, traffic control and STMS (site traffic management supervision), as well as achieving unit standards in chainsaw and light utility vehicle use, and health and safety.

Two candidates also completed Mates of Tairawhiti Connector training.

“The success of the project is a result of our project delivery team and the relationship they developed with the candidates and the contractors, giving wraparound support throughout the process,” Eastland Group business development general manager Alice Pettigrew said.

“They were very hands-on and got to know each individual over the duration of the project.

“The other key to success has been the sheer hard work the candidates and contractors have put in, alongside the supportive environment that developed over the course of the programme.

“We will continue to help find further employment for the candidates, and it's great knowing that each and every one of them has acquired new skills which make them more employable.”

The project began in May and provided paid employment for 40 hours a week, including training time. Work involved scrub clearance under and around powerlines across the Eastland network.

Candidate Tahana Kinghazel said being part of the project had been a life-changer for him.

“I've been able to get lots of new skills and have been offered an apprenticeship with Eastland Tree Care.”

Another candidate, Khaileb Harvey, said one of the best things for him was getting his full driver's licence. He was a displaced forestry worker and had now been re-employed in the forestry sector.

Each of the people who took part in the project was a displaced worker registered with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).

MSD work broker Daljeet Cameron said it had been a rewarding experience to see so many people gain new skills and confidence through the project.

“This has a wider effect and benefits whanau and the community.

“It means people can start planning for their futures rather than just getting by.”

Turanga Ararau's Manaaki support team have been providing pastoral care for those in the project.

“By working together with MSD, Eastland Group, Eastland Network and the contractors, we have brought about positive outcomes for everyone involved,” Turanga Ararau employment coordinator Ingrid Brown said.

AFFIRMING: Eastland Tree Clearance Project graduates Tahana Kinghazel, Khaileb Harvey and Pakanga Te Whitu, with Toni Sadlier from Eastland Tree Care. Picture supplied