UCOL | Te Pūkenga Manawatū held its first-ever women in trades forum for ākonga | students in August, with a second due to be held next week, which will feature special guest, Hayden Pettersson, Managing Director at Metalfold Industries.
Fiona Campbell, Kaitiaki Ākonga of the Raukura team, and Sophie Greenwood, Lecturer – Light Fabrication for Engineering and Applied Technologies Faculty, put their heads together as to how UCOL | Te Pūkenga could help support the growing number of wāhine | female trades students.
“Creating a forum where our trades’ wāhine can come together and support each other is really exciting,” says Campbell.
“It’s not just the study aspect, but challenges unique to being a wāhine in these industries as well as life after they’ve completed studying.
“We’ve got just under 40 wāhine ākonga enrolled in a trades course here at UCOL | Te Pūkenga which includes construction, automotive, collision repair and automotive refinishing, engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical, and plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying.”
The first meeting was a lunch just for ākonga and kindly sponsored by our Te Mataora Māori Pasifika Trades Training team.
Fiona says 30 wāhine trades ākonga attended and together they determined three objectives for the forum; whakawhanaungatanga (the process of establishing relationships), the purpose of a trade qualification (future aspirations), and, once we have formed a solid foundation we would like to roll this forum out to other places around Aotearoa.
“We also created ownership for our members by brainstorming a name for it - Taonga in Trades,” adds Greenwood.
“Aspirationally, creating an alumni forum founded on a Tuakana teina cultural practice would be an absolute achievement. Tuakana teina provides a framework where those with more expertise (the Tuakana) help those with less expertise (the Teina), but at any time the roles can be reversed providing a reciprocal learning experience for both,” explains Campbell.
“We would love to hear from any wāhine who are already in the industry and are interested in attending and being a mentor by supporting and having meaningful kōrero with our ākonga once a month.”
“Although there are few existing ‘women in trades’ forums in Aotearoa, we are yet to encounter one that begins with the ākonga and carries right through to those who have been working in their industry for decades,” says Campbell.
“As we develop this group, we will look to workshop through a range of things we’d like to achieve at each meeting, including discussions on the lifestyle of trades, employability skills, and work-life balance.
We encourage all wāhine in the sector in Manawatū to reach out and get involved, whether you’re thinking about studying a trade, already studying, or in the workforce. For more information, email