Skills - Celebrating exceptional Pasifika apprentices

Five standout Pasifika men have been acknowledged by their employers and training organisation for their commitment to trade apprenticeships, receiving the Skills Pasifika Specialist Trades Scholarships which include a financial grants of $2000 to be allocated to training fees or tools.



The five grant winners Ioane McNeill-Temese, Gordon Takairangi, Tevita Tameilau, Fetuli Tukai and Elifasa Sopi were selected from a shortlist of exceptional Pasifika apprentices following recommendations from their employers, Skills account managers and polytech teaching staff.


Each is well on the path of becoming accomplished tradesmen.


“Each of our grant winners is a role model, committed to advancing in their careers while representing Pacific values in the workplace,” says national manager for Pacific at Skills, Issac Liava’a.


“Our Pacific people can be extremely proud of the calibre of apprentices rising through our communities. They are all helping to strengthen a growing network of Pacific people in trades and business.”


The successful apprentices of Cook Islands, Samoan and Tongan descent represent electrical, plumbing, gas fitting and roofing trades.
Ioane McNeill-Temese from Moata'a Village, Upolu, Samoa is completing an electrical apprenticeship at Coll Electrical.


Gordon Takairangi from Palmerston and Atiu in the Cook Islands is adding plumbing to his set of skills with Dreco Ltd.


Tevita Tameilau from Vaini in Tongatapu, Tonga is working through his electrical qualifications at Sky City Auckland Ltd and Fetuli Tukia from Navutoka, also in Tongatapu, Tonga, is completing his electrical trade at Harker Abergeldie.


Finally, Elifasa Sopi from Fagalii and Afega, Upolu, Samoa is undertaking a roofing apprenticeship with Complete Plumbing Service.


At 37 years old Gordon Takairangi says a trades apprenticeship has a lot to offer Pacific people even if they are a bit older.


During the awards presentation he spoke of learning basic hands-on skills from his uncles as a young boy.


After school and nearly 14 years in a steady job he felt a real hunger to keep learning.


So, when a plumbing apprenticeship was offered to members of another team in his workplace he spoke up and made a compelling pitch to start structured training.


At first, he says, learning without hands-on, daily, plumbing experience was a challenge.


“I went to tech but had no clue about valves and things in the guides. I moved companies and after one year at Dreco I am very humbled to learn all these new plumbing skills.


“With that experience I have been able to fly through tech.”


Fetuli Tukia, 25-year old living in Mangere, initially planned to start with carpentry at MIT but the class was full.


Rather than turn away, he moved into electrical and is “loving it”.


“During the first semester I just got so interested in the electrical trade that I continued on with it and I’m enjoying every bit.


“After finishing Level 4, I had a week left before we ended the semester, got my CV sent out, got a job with Harker Underground Construction which is now called Abergeldie Harker.”


Fetuli is part of a close-knit team working underground with specialist electrical drilling equipment tunnelling below Albert St as part of the Auckland City rail project.


Issac Liava’a encourages Pacific families to consider trades as a viable and attractive career pathway for men and women.


“Construction is booming, we hear continued calls for more qualified tradespeople to meet labour shortages and build infrastructure.


“A trade provides a platform for our people for to earn while they learn so they can continue to support their families, become formally recognised for their skills and eventually run their own businesses, employ others and pass on their knowledge and skills.


“We congratulate and celebrate our talented and committed trades apprentices.”