When Contact Energy announced plans to build a new geothermal power station at the base
of Tauhara maunga in Taupō, they knew that good recruitment was a critical element of the
project’s success. The $800 million project is currently one of the largest construction projects in New Zealand and requires a wide range of skills and expertise.
To help address the need for trained staff, Contact Energy created a trades training programme for those living in the Taupō district. The two week programme, Ka Hiko ai te
iwi, teaches participants a number of skills including site safety, first aid, working at heights
and risk assessment. Once the course is completed participants have the opportunity to find
ongoing employment at the Tauhara site.
The programme has attracted the interest of several rangatahi (young people) in Turangi.
However transport to the Taupō-based site is a major barrier. Although the group are able
to car-pool, many do not have a full drivers licence. Tanya Stieglbauer of Taupō economic
development agency, Amplify heard about the issue and got to work.
“I was happy to hear that some of our Turangi rangatahi were able to find employment at
the Tauhara site” says Tanya. “However it was really important that they were able to travel
safely to and from work each day. Fuel costs are high and it’s actually not that easy to get a
full drivers licence these days. It can be a real barrier to employment” she says.
Tanya began talking with contacts at the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and Contact
Energy about finding a van and driver to transport the workers from Turangi to the site.
Both organisations agreed to help fund a van on a trial basis.
Backyard Tours, a Turangi-based tour company, were happy to get involved in the project.
“We’re a small family-owned company and our local community is really important to us.
Also the lack of international visitors due to COVID has hit our business pretty hard. So when
Tanya contacted us about offering a bus service from Turangi to the Tauhara project, we
jumped at the chance. It's a great project to be involved with” says Gloria Ngawati, co-
owner of Backyard Tours.
The van has also been an important aspect of Contact’s Ka Hiko programme. “The van was
one of the reasons I signed up to the programme. If I was driving up to Taupō each day on
my own, half my wages would be spent on gas each week. And that’s before all the other
bills I have to pay. If the van stops I would probably have to reconsider working in Taupō
and start looking for a job closer to home” says Terehia Te Kani-Ham of Industrial Site
The collaboration between Contact Energy, The Ministry of Social Development and Amplify
is an example of organisations working together to address local community challenges.
Funding for the van is due to finish in October.