TOI Ohomai Institute of Technology’s beekeeping tutor, Omar Martinez, has been described by his students as “one of those teachers that just makes things make sense”.

Omar tutored the beekeeping course in Whakatane last year and made such an impression on his students he was presented with this wood carving of a bee dressed in a korowai at the end of the course.

Among his students were Gabriel Merito and his granddaughter Sandra Merito-Allen. Gabriel is 82 and he had not long recovered from a heart attack, so his family weren’t too keen on him enrolling.

Gabriel would just visit instead and shoot the breeze with Omar. When the course wound up, Omar was presented with the carved bee that had been organised by Gabriel.

The Whakatane class had been in communication with Gabriel because they wanted to get something special for Omar as a sign of their gratitude and respect.

As well as wearing a korowai, the wooden bee is adorned with pieces of paua shell representing each member of the class, with the largest one depicting Omar.

On the back of the successful delivery of the course at Whakatane and Toi Ohomai’s Windermere Campus in Tauranga, the institute will offer the course in Rotorua for the first time from July. Omar will also deliver a second course from the Windermere Campus.

Omar says honey and beekeeping is big business in New Zealand, and this course will give students the basics they need to start out in the industry. “By the end of it, students will have their beehive they built up with bees, bee suit, hive tool, smoker and gloves.

They will be able to work under limited supervision in a commercial beekeeping operation, or independently in a small-scale operation or a lifestyle option.”