A new bus service from Turangi for Toi Ohomai students has taken off with a hiss and a roar,
transporting over 45 students to the Institute of Technology’s Taupō campus. Students are
attending a range of courses at the Taupō campus, including carpentry, automotive, hair
dressing and foundation skills.
The free bus service is the result of a collaboration between Amplify (formerly Enterprise
Great Lake Taupō) and Toi Ohomai. “Kylie Hawker-Green from Amplify let us know that
there were a number of students in Turangi who were keen to continue their studies with us
in Taupō” says Maree Kendrick, Regional Lead for Toi Ohomai South.
After speaking with teachers at Tongariro School and Te Kura o Hiranga, Maree, Suzanne
Brotherton and Alistair Penrose of Toi Ohomai created a pop-up store at Turangi library.
“We wanted to get a sense of the level of interest in our courses. We had a huge response,
and lots of support from the local schools, kaumatua, and community police team. But the
biggest barrier to enrolment was transport to Taupō” says Alistair, who is Toi Ohomai’s
construction tutor and also a Turangi resident.
As several of Taupō’s Toi Ohomai tutors were already commuting to Taupō from Turangi,
they agreed to drive students up to Taupō in a van. However the tutors encountered an
unexpected problem. “At first we were able to source funding for one van, and had enough
students to fill it. We were able to share the driving out across the tutors. But then the
enrolments kept coming in! Soon we were driving three full vans up to Taupō each day” says
Maree got to work, and sourced short-term funding for a 50 seater bus. “It’s just been such
a huge success, far beyond anything we expected” says Mike Bowie of Amplify, who lives at
the Southern end of Lake Taupō and has worked closely with Toi Ohomai on the project.
“Now we need to keep the momentum going and help find these students apprenticeships
and job opportunities with local businesses. There are a wide range of businesses based
down here who are always looking for good people. It would be great to see some of these
students finding work locally” says Mike.
Automotive student Nene Hepi says the bus service has been key to her attendance at Toi
Ohomai. “We support each other and make sure we’re on the bus in time. If someone isn’t
there we give them a call to check that they’re still coming. It’s quite long days – we leave at
7:30am and get home after 4pm. But it’s worth it” says Nene, who has recently started Term
Two of her automotive course.
Several of the Turangi students are already gaining valuable work experience in local
apprenticeships. “Each year many of my students move into apprenticeships and
employment. Two ex-students of mine recently gained first and second place in the New
Zealand Certified Builders Carpentry Apprentice Challenge. Our courses are giving these
students confidence and great skills they can take with them for life” says Alistair.