Downer degree graduates Te Puni Kōkiri cadets

Downer graduates from Otago Polytechnic – Te Pūkenga, brought colour and life to the streets of central Dunedin on their graduation day on 15 March 2024.

Published: Tuesday, 19 March 2024 | Rātū, 19 Poutūterangi, 2024

Downer graduates from Otago Polytechnic – Te Pūkenga, brought colour and life to the streets of central Dunedin on their graduation day on 15 March 2024. Led by a bagpiper, ten Māori leaders at Downer and their whānau made their way to the Dunedin Town Hall in the traditional graduation parade.

This graduation ceremony capped a journey that began in September 2022, when the ten kaimahi embarked on the Te Puni Kōkiri cadetship programme, Te Whanake Timatanga, which offers the opportunity to advance the careers of Māori employees with support to achieve a recognised NZQA qualification, on the job skills training and te ao Māori experiences.

“This bachelor’s qualification is a crucial next step in supporting tauirato support Māori aspirations that ultimately develop tauira into senior management positions,” says Jarrod Telford, Downer Pou Matua.

“Our 10 graduates come from all over Aotearoa comprising five wāhine and five tāne, and hold a range of different roles across our business – from Contract Managers to Engineers and Quantity Surveyors.

“Many have been in our business for a number of years. They have a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience, but sometimes the lack of a formal qualification can be a block to career advancement. It is Downer’s hope that this programme becomes a real game changer for whānau and the company.”

Otago Polytechnic’s Capable NZ offers mature and experienced professionals and community leaders an affirming and flexible path to gaining a formal academic qualification. Through its unique Assessment of Prior Learning (APL) methodology, it recognises learning that has already been acquired.

“This innovative partnership between Downer, Otago Polytechnic – Te Pūkenga and Te Puni Kōkiri offers a transformational pathway for mature and experienced pakeke,” says Associate Professor Kelli Te Maiharoa, of Capable NZ.

 “It’s a collaborative, indigenous model of education, bringing together iwi, industry, educational institutions, community organisations and government agencies,” Dr Te Maiharoa says.

“We offer the opportunity for pakeke to study and learn in a kaupapa Māori learning environment with Māori facilitators, Māori assessors and the chance to undertake this incredible learning journey with a cohort of amazing whānau tauira. Those involved in the programme are expected to attend wānanga and make time in their busy lives to complete their work,” Dr Te Maiharoa says.

Read more about Cadetships here. Te Puni Kōkiri kaimahi at regional offices are available to talk with employers about the programme and offer advice on how businesses can be involved. Click here to find an office near you.


Caption: Downer graduates: Front - Linda Lapwood (Dunedin), Julie Tilson (Christchurch), Tanya Jones (Christchurch). Back - Craig Beazley (Porirua), Julie Waitai (Taupo), Brenden Skipper (Auckland), Hayden Russell (Taupo), Taumai Marshall (Wellington), Monique Adams-Brown (Tauranga). Not pictured - John Monu (Porirua).