In the July school holidays five year 13 Mangere College students traded their school holidays for early starts heading to local Housing New Zealand homes to install showers and do repairs.
It might sound like some cruel extension of detention, but in fact it represents the start of an important partnership between the school, Housing New Zealand, its local maintenance contractor Spotless, and Mangere Development lead HLC.
The connection is Mangere Development, a multi-phase redevelopment project replacing aging state houses with new, warm, dry homes for Housing New Zealand tenants, first-home buyers and other property buyers.
Much of the proposed development, officially launched on 13 July by Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford, borders Mangere College, and that gave Housing New Zealand and HLC’s community development staff an idea.
"The purpose of this Mangere Development is to create not just warm, dry homes, but create better communities in which to live and work.
"Finding a way to give local young people a head start into the world of work seemed like a good example of that."
At the same time, Mangere College is expanding a career-oriented programme called Vocational Pathways aimed at giving students a mix of trade training through the Manukau Institute of Technology and targeted NCEA studies.
Spotless, which has the maintenance contract for 5500 state houses in Mangere also has a work experience programme.
The stars aligned, and a pilot cadetship programme for the July school holidays was born. It provides young people from Mangere the chance to gain work experience in facilities services like building, and plumbing.
HLC community development and engagement coordinator Karla Beazley says it’s been great working alongside Mangere College’s Principal Tom Webb.
"It’s been terrific to find good opportunities for students to be involved in the work that we are doing here in Mangere. Not only are the students getting valuable work experience, they are also being exposed to all kinds of construction based trades through the Spotless programme.
"This is just the beginning of our partnership and we are already talking about how we can extend this further."
John Kumitau, whose deep connections to Mangere have made him an invaluable Community Engagement Advisor for Mangere Development, says the cadet programme ensures the development partners are doing more than simply building new homes and facilities.
"We want to create a development project that does good in the community it affects – not just by making warm, dry homes, but by using our opportunities to make people’s lives better, for instance by using our connections to the building and construction industry to create local job opportunities."
For Mangere College principal Tom Webb, the pilot scheme was another way for his students to shake off the stereotypes of teenage boys and show they were engaged and hungry for experience.
"These young men recognise the value of an opportunity. They willingly gave up a fortnight of sleep-ins because they know they have a chance to progress towards a career when they see one.
"One of the really big motivators among this group is the desire to contribute to their families. They see being one of the breadwinners in the home as a big responsibility that they want to live up to."
Nick Davidson, Spotless General Manager, Housing, says the pilot programme has been a massive success, and is looking forward to seeing in extended.
"All five young men completed the full two weeks, and they have made a very good impression, with our sub-contractors keen to stay in touch once these five are ready for fulltime work."