Building the next generation of tradies starts at school

Hakihea 5, 2023 | 6 min read

MIT | Te Pūkenga Trades Academy ākonga celebrate at Prize Giving

Trades Academy ākonga (learners) have been celebrating their successes with teachers and whānau at prize givings across Aotearoa New Zealand, as the school year comes to an end.

The academies allow ākonga opportunities to access a wide range of trades and technology-related learning, while completing NCEA to support positive post-study transitions.

Ninety-three percent of ākonga overall move into employment or further study after participating in an academy (this figure is 91.5% for ākonga Māori and 89% Pacific).

More than half of the 11,186 academy places offered throughout the motu are delivered either on campus or in the workplace by business divisions of Te Pūkenga.

“Not only do Trades Academies provide an opportunity to learn technical and industry-specific skills, but they also develop employability and soft-skills of ākonga,” says Pounuku Ako ā-Motu: Tūāpapa me ngā Huarahi Ako | National Ako Director - Foundation and Pathways, Koren Hopoi.

“By travelling to and attending these programmes we see our rangatahi empowered through improved confidence and engagement in learning,” she says.  

One of those ākonga is Porohu Hagai Noa who is in Year 13 at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate and was valedictorian at MIT | Te Pūkenga Trades Academy Prize Giving this year.

Porohu is a representative sportswoman in league and union, who recently returned from the Inspiring Explorers Expedition along with 21 other young leaders who traveled to South Georgia Island courtesy of the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

The top student at MIT’s academy in Building Construction and Allied Trades Skills this year, Ms Hagai Noa is excited about recently landing a five-year apprenticeship with Taylor’s Construction.

“My advice is if you work hard you’ll reach those far horizons,” she told those graduating from the academy.

“As Sir Ed once said, ‘it is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.’ So go out and conquer the world.”

Fourteen Prime Minister’s Awards for Vocational Excellence were given to ākonga in MIT Trades Academy joining the more than three hundred Te Pūkenga learners who received such recognition this year.

The awards were launched in 2019 with the purpose of celebrating the achievements of secondary students enrolled in vocational programmes, and to raise the status of these pathways within high schools and colleges. Each recipient receives a monetary prize of $2,000.

“(When I received the PM’s Award) I was speechless and proud of myself,” says Christina Tuinauvai-Fuatogi of Mt Roskill Grammar who plans to continue studying Carpentry next year at Unitec | Te Pūkenga.

“As a Year 12 student, I was clueless of what I wanted to do when I leave school and this opportunity was a great shift in my life knowing there’s so many things I could study and do in the future,” says the 17-year-old who is focused on becoming a qualified builder with an interest in management.

An introduction to a vast array of different trades is available through academies nationwide. These include:


ICT Innovation


Digital Technologies


Digital Design & Animation



Workplace Office Admin


Computer Technology


Computer Technician


Early Childhood


Exercise & Sport





Youth Health


Sports Skills & Coaching



Intro to Nursing





Animal Care


Café Skills




Food & Beverage





Outdoor Education



Business Administration


Business Enterprise









Electrical Engineering


Painting & Decorating







Mechanical Engineering


Building & Construction













Landscape Construction & Tree Work





Primary Industries


Sports Turf


Manaaki Tauira




Te Toi Whakairo


Toi Māori


Tourism & Travel


NZ Police Pathways


Road Transport




Lab Science


Performing Arts


Creative Skills


Radio Broadcasting & Entertainment



Media Design


Audio/Music Technology and Game


Art & Design


Hair & Beauty (including Barbering)


Massage Therapy




Automotive Engineering




Animal Care


NZ Defence Pathways



One of the successes celebrated at MIT Trades Academy Prize Giving was the further growth of P-TECH, a partnership between Ministry of Education, education providers and industry which seeks to develop pathways towards technology-related careers, particularly for groups currently underrepresented in those fields including Māori, Pacific and women.

“What started with a small cohort of students has now reached 289, 45% being Pasifika, 21% Māori and 38% females,” MIT | Te Pūkenga Pathways Manager Gaynor Matthews told the audience.

“This programme has been a huge success and shows the power of collaboration between schools, industry and tertiary education,” she says.

Te Pūkenga business divisions are also working together to provide secondary ākonga more opportunities.

This year, Pukekohe High School learners in the Level 2 Building programme were offered ten-week work placements at local building and landscaping companies through BCITO. Several gaining apprenticeships through this exposure to industry. 

"For many of our ākonga, this is the start of their journey to achieving vocational qualifications which lead to meaningful employment. Trades Academies are a powerful enabler," says Koren Hopoi.

Demand for Trades Academy places continues to grow annually with 362 places for ākonga added and 17 new or reinstated programme areas available across the country in 2024.