YOUNG MAORIS BECOME SKILLED TRADESMEN
Seven years ago the Department of Maori Affairs launched the first of a number of special training schemes in a new drive to encourage more young Maoris into skilled trades. These special measures have since been greatly expanded and in the intervening period, encouraging, and in some cases, outstanding results have been achieved.
From the modest start in 1959, when ten Maori boys were recruited for training at Auckland in one trade — carpentry — the schemes have grown rapidly and now encompass an intake of 144 boys each year, with seven different apprenticeship trades operating at training centres in Auckland, Lower Hutt and Christchurch.
The special trade courses are operated by the Department in conjunction with the technical institutions at Auckland. Petone and Christchurch and have the full approval of the educational and apprenticeship authorities.
Major Help to Industry
Maori apprentices from the special training schemes have a high reputation with employers, because of their better than average pass rate in the preliminary trade examinations, and a comparatively small drop-out rate. The training schemes have obviously become acceptable to the Maori people and are now attracting applications from more than double the number of boys who can be catered for.
These courses offer many advantages, not the least of which is that in many cases they provide the only real opportunity for Maori boys in country areas to take up skilled trades. Besides giving intensive theoretical and practical instruction in each trade, the courses are specially designed to give the Maori boys extra help in essential academic subjects, such as English and mathematics. The trainees are placed in accommodation at suitable hostels, mostly operated by church organisations, and special emphasis is placed on helping them to adapt themselves to the often bewildering complexity of city life.
Boys taken into the schemes become employees of the Department of Maori Affairs and receive normal apprentices' wages. At the end of the course they are placed with private employers to complete their apprenticeships in the usual way. Time spent in the courses run by the Department count towards the apprenticeship term.
Country Boys Given Preference
Entry is normally confined to boys from country areas, between 15 and 18 years of age, with not less than two years secondary education. Many of the boys actually possess much better educational qualifications than the minimum apprenticeship requirement, and an increasing number have passed School Certificate.
Selections are made at Wellington by a committee comprising representatives of the Department of Maori Affairs, the Department of Education, the New Zealand Apprenticeship Committees, and the particular technical institutes conducting the courses.
Variety of Trades
Maori boys wishing to take up apprenticeship training under this scheme now have a range of seven different trades to choose from. At first, only carpentry was available, the first course being at Auckland in 1959. A second carpentry centre was opened at Gracefield, Lower Hutt, in 1961, followed by a third centre at Weedons, Christchurch, in 1962. These are all two-year courses. An interesting feature is that the carpentry trainees spend twelve months on actual house building under normal field conditions, supervised by experienced building instructors. The boys are split into gangs of six, each gang building three different types of house, which on completion, are sold to Maori families. Since the carpentry scheme started in 1959 the trainees have built nearly 150 houses, as well as completing a number of other building jobs.
One-year courses in plumbing and electrical wiring were started at the technical institutes in 1962, and a motor mechanics course was introduced in Auckland in 1963. The follow-
ing year, courses in painting and panel beating were started at Christchurch, and in 1965, plastering was introduced at Lower Hutt.
The annual intake of boys at each of the three carpentry centres is 24. The six one-year courses each cater for classes of 12 boys.
During the May and September secondary school holidays, when the technical institutes are closed, the Maori trainees are temporarily attached to private employers. This gives the employers an excellent chance to assess the value of the scheme and the capabilities of the trainees.
Good Trade Examination Results
The trade examination results of boys trained under the schemes are generally better than the national average for all apprentices. Some outstanding examination results have been obtained, not only by individual trainees but also by whole groups. Last year all the boys in a class of 21 first-year carpentry trainees at Gracefield passed both papers of the First Qualifying Examination. Fourteen of the boys obtained marks ranging from 70% to 94% in one examination paper, and 11 trainees had marks between 70% and 83% in the other paper. In the Second Qualifying Examination in carpentry, 19 trainees sat Paper A, and 18 passed.
At Auckland, a former electrical trainee, Eric Beazley from Northland, won a gold medal for gaining the highest marks (96 per cent) as the top electrical apprentice in New Zealand. The previous year, another former Auckland trainee, Peter Papanui, a carpenter, won the Governor-General's Gold Cup as the best apprentice in all trades at the Auckland Technical Institute.
At Christchurch, two boys from the painting and paper-hanging course, Pari Hunt from Ahititi, and John Ngaire from Putaruru, won the Taubman's Travel Award.
Special Apprentices' Hostels
The success of the schemes is due in no small measure to placing the trainees in suitable hostels where they receive the benefit of close but friendly supervision and helpful advice and guidance.
Four hostels of about 180 beds are now being used at Auckland. Of these, two are owned by the Department. Owens Road Hostel, a new property, was purchased by the Department last year and has accommodation for 50 boys. It is leased to the United Maori Mission. Domett Avenue Hostel was taken over from the Department of Labour in 1965 and a new 30-bed wing has since been built by the carpentry trainees. This hostel is leased to the Presbyterian Church. A third hostel, Gillies Avenue, is owned by the Maori Trustee. This is also leased to the United Maori Mission. The fourth hostel is at Dominion Road, and is owned and operated by the Presbyterian Church.
The Lower Hutt trainees are all provided with accommodation at the Trentham Immigration Hostel, owned and operated by the Department of Labour.
At Christchurch two hostels are used. One, Rehua Hostel, is owned by Central Methodist Mission and the Department of Maori Affairs is financing the erection of a new three-storied, 33-bed wing, which will be completed before the end of the year. Hanson's Lane Hostel, at Riccarton, was earlier taken over from the Department of Labour and leased to the Social Service Council, Diocese of Christchurch. Major extensions to this property are also under way by the Department to provide a further 30 beds. This new work is also being carried out by Maori trainees and will be completed before the end of the year.
Rapidly Increasing Numbers
To date 673 boys have been taken into the training schemes. Of these, 423 have completed their training and have been placed with employers. So far, 114 former trainees, all carpenters, have completed their apprenticeships. The number of drop-outs after apprenticeship to employers has been low. At the moment, more than 200 boys are receiving training and at the present rate of intake, some 1,100 boys will have been taken into the trade training scheme by 1970.
National Interests Being Served
The skilled worker and technologist is in greater demand today than ever before. The Department of Maori Affairs is well aware of the large number of Maoris in unskilled employment, and has taken positive steps to change the situation. It is evident that these trade training schemes are now making a significant and important contribution to the industrial development of the nation, and to the Maori's place in modern society. Although much more still remains to be done, it can be said that, as the first step in closing the gap
between the unskilled and higher professions, the present progress in the apprenticeship field is a vitally important one in the occupational development of the Maori people. Although it is obvious that largely as a result of these special measures, the annual intake of Maori apprentices has been doubled in recent years, it is clear that the scheme will have to be accelerated if the movement of Maoris into skilled trades is to be fostered and extended.