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NZQA approval for training school ‘a milestone’

A Tairawhiti social enterprise which runs a forestry school has become an NZQA-accredited private training establishment.

Train Me Quality Services Limited, the governing entity of the ManaiaSAFE Forestry School and the School of Shop, applied to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority for registration as a Private Training Establishment (PTE).

The company plans to offer training in the retail and tourism domains next year, as well as its forestry training.

Executive director and PTE manager Christine Beach says her long-time dream of running her own PTE has finally become a reality.

“This milestone has been years in the making. It's significant because our community can now have confidence that our schools will be governed with integrity, and that students will be provided with quality training in a culturally safe learning environment,” Mrs Beach said.

NZQA officials met with Train Me staff and stakeholders on September 11. Mrs Beach said the feedback she received was really encouraging.

“A special highlight for the NZQA lead evaluator was talking to our students and she described the support shown from the community and industry as ‘heart-warming'. She was excited to imagine that there is such a provider using a special kind of kaupapa that is resulting in real and life changing differences for their learners.”

Managing director Henry Koia said registration was a stepping stone to achieving Train Me's vision of an educated, skilled, and prosperous Tairawhiti.

“We see a lot of wasted youth potential out there, so we're doing something about it. Mobilising youth potential will be key to our region's economic recovery,” Mr Koia said.

Train Me will now apply to NZQA for programme approval, accreditation, and consent to assess. Once granted, Train Me will be able to access funding from the Tertiary Education Commission from 2022 to supplement its log production income.

Mr Koia said the company was in it for the long haul.

“We are thinking longterm. Over the next 10 years with our one training crew we will pay out $12 million in gross salaries and wages for our staff and $15 million to our supplier businesses that employ locals.

“We will contribute to regional productivity to the tune of around 384,000 tonnes of logs generating potentially north of $46 million for our customer forest owner who employs locals and contracts local logging businesses.

“We will provide skills for foresters by releasing 120 work-ready graduates into the labour supply pipeline, enough to man 12 new cable harvesting crews that will need machinery, equipment, and fuel to operate, so now supplier businesses will need to hire more local workers.

“More wood means greater export volumes. This means more revenue for Trust Tairawhiti to redistribute back to our community. So the social impact of the mahi we are doing now has the potential to become exponential in the long run,” Mr Koia said.

Train Me is also keen to help address the issues of drugs and environmental impacts and is collaborating with Massey University's Research Centre for Maori Health and Development on a project that examines forestry drug policy on the East Coast.

The aim is to gain insights to help develop a quality intervention to reduce the likelihood of a graduate relapsing after they find employment.

The company is also keen to pursue exploratory discussions with polymer extraction company Ligar GR Limited to convert the school's harvesting waste into biofuel to power the school's machinery.

Mr Koia said that without the backing of key stakeholders, Train Me's achievements would never have been possible.

“I truly believe that one day, the fruits of the collaborations that have got us this far will be feeding a lot of people, long after I've gone.”

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: ManaiaSAFE Forestry School Rookie Logger Aaron McKay tries his hand at stump notching and pre-setting for line changing. Picture supplied