POWER STATION: Students visit the Huntly Power Station.

HIGHLIGHTS of Eastern Bay Energy Trust’s annual electrical taster course included finding out about the huge range of careers in the industry and hearing first-hand how beneficial it is to complete a trade.

Ten Eastern Bay students from Trident, Tarawera, Whakatane and Opotiki secondary schools were selected for the week-long live-in course organised and co-funded by the trust and Connexis (formerly the Electricity Supply Industry Training Organisation).

Based at Tarawera High School the course comprised a variety of industry-related, team-building and personal development activities. Site visits included going to the Kawerau geothermal plant, the Huntly and Karapiro power stations and Transpower’s Rukahina site, Horizon Energy Group in Whakatane and WINTEC’s Rotokauri campus.

The 14th annual course aimed to give students a broad understanding of the many career pathways available in the electrical industry from line mechanics, cable jointers, electricians, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, plant operators and many more.

At the end of the week, the students had to each prepare and deliver a presentation to industry representatives, family, organisers and the trust, outlining what they had learnt, their personal highlights and their likely career pathways.

During the course round-up the industry tutor for the course, The Training Generation’s technical director Ewan Graves, presented the most outstanding trainee award to Hayley Mackey, a year 12 student at Whakatane High School.

Ewan says, “Hayley showed consistency throughout the week with an obvious commitment to take in all on offer. An interest at each level of presentation and site visit saw her constantly making notes or posing relevant questions.

“In a male dominant-environment it was excellent to see her set such a high standard, which encouraged others to follow her example of getting as much out of the experience as possible and made the final selection a very difficult one.”

He noted that he, along with many of the organisations the students visited, had seen the students’ desire to soak up all the information and opportunities on offer.

“Once again, this year’s participants demonstrated a desire to succeed in the week’s introduction to industry and in their future development. Several industry representatives gave positive feedback on the contributions made during site visits with mature questions popping up on many occasions.

“The workload was tough, with a detailed delivery well in advance of their general knowledge but we were delighted to see how much of the general and technical information they held on to when delivering the final day presentations. Each participant should be proud of their contribution.”

Hayley says she now has a good insight into the varied careers available in the electrical industry and is keen to pursue an apprenticeship first, before going on to university to complete further study.

She thoroughly enjoyed the week’s activities, learning and also the mentoring offered by the course supervisors. She is actively looking for an apprenticeship, but if that doesn’t eventuate, will return to school for her final year.

Students were selected after applying and having an interview with a panel of members from the trust and industry representatives.

Hayley didn’t really know what to expect at the outset of the course and had “no clue what she wanted to do when she left school apart from knowing she wanted to be using her brain –but didn’t want to sit at a desk all day”.

Now, at the end of the course, Hayley has decided her pathway will begin with an apprenticeship in the electrical engineering field to get “practical know-how before going on to university studies” as suggested by one of the industry representatives at WINTEC in Hamilton.

Another highlight was the mentoring and daily fitness regimes run by the course supervisors Whakatane police constable Jason Herring and fitness trainer George Kururangi.

“It has given me the insight into good habits, good life habits and I’ve really enjoyed this whole course, it’s been interesting, fun and I’ve also got to know all the other students.”
Tarawera High School student Rewi Adlam says the course was “perfectly balanced with the practical and theory components”.

Rewi’s highlights include visiting Horizon Energy in Whakatane and Transpower in Rukahina.

”Seeing those ‘big tasks’ of generation in operation and understanding how the electrical industry works has made has made it more motivating to do.” Rewi now plans to complete year 13 at Tarawera next year before pursuing training in the electrical industry.

“An awesome experience” is how Opotiki College student Storm Hata describes the course, which has encouraged him to pursue a trade qualification. Storm says it’s been a “mean experience” all round, and the support of Jason Herring and George Kururangi had been “wicked”. The highlight for Storm was visiting Kawerau’s geothermal plant, as it is “right here in our backyard”.

Also from Opotiki is Ted Edgar, who attends Trident High School in year 12, who thought the course was “great, particularly the visits to WINTEC and the Huntly Power Station”.

A lifeguard with the Opotiki Surf Lifesaving Club, who competes in surf canoe racing, Ted says bonding with the other students was an added bonus. He says the course made him realise an apprenticeship and going to polytechnic was achievable. He plans to return to school in 2019 and then decide what area of the industry to enter, but is looking forward to the future of a trade, working and earning.

Trident High School year 13 student Christian Van der Gulick didn’t really know what to expect from the course but enjoyed it so much he now plans to follow the university pathway into the electrical industry. Encouraged by his Trident physics teacher, Christian says he has applied and been accepted into engineering at university but is still weighing up where, depending on scholarships. “Knowing all of this is here and that electrical is a really great pathway has been cool.”

“An enlightening experience” is how Byron Tupaea describes the week-long taster course which was topped off by the other students and also the fun activities like drift karting and adrenaline forest high ropes course.

Someone who loves the thrill of heights, Byron says he is now looking towards a career in the industry but will complete year 13 in 2019 before deciding exactly what he wants to do.

Byron says he’d recommend the course to his mates at school as it “was well worth giving up a week of holidays”.

Having always wanted an electrical-type career, Whakatane High School student Ryann Trowell says getting accepted onto the course confirmed his passion – “the electrical industry, that’s me”. Ryann says from an early age he has liked making new things.

“I’m a practical person, I like to do things and I’ve grown up knowing how to be hard working.” Ryann prefers the practical route into the industry and is actively seeking an apprenticeship. He is thankful for the contacts and possible opportunities the taster course may bring.

Students selected were: Trident High School: year 13 – Angus Coulter, Christian Van der Gulick; year 12 – Byron Tupaea, James Prout, Mathew Wylie and Ted Edgar. Whakatane High School: year 13 – Hayley Mackey and Ryann Trowell. Tarawera High School: year 12 – Rewi Adlam. Opotiki College: year 12 – Storm Hata.
Students aged 16 or over who live in the Eastern Bay region or Kaingaroa Village who have completed NCEA Level 1 with good literacy and numeracy skills are eligible to apply for the taster course.