Panel Convenor: Tuahu Watene, Ringa Hora Workforce Development Council, Tangata Whaikaha Lead, Partnership and Engagement

Round portrait photo of a Māori man, Tuahu, with dark hair and eyes and a grey beard, smiling warmly at the camera.

About Tuahu

Korihi te Po, Korihi te Po, Korihi te Ao, Korihi te Ao
Ka rongo i runga ki te matahau o Tū
Tū te winiwini, Tū te wanawana
Tū ki whakaputaina, ki te whai Ao ki te Ao marama
Tihei Mauri ora

Since the age of 15, I have worked in the forestry sector during my school holiday periods.  Leaving school at the age of 18 with no qualifications and married at 19 saw me entering the workforce full-time working in a manufacturing mill for 13 years as a mill hand from 1978-1992.  Over those years I was introduced to a number of skill sets. Driving heavy machinery, grading timber and making paper until forced redundancy in December 1992.

In 1993,  I was offered a position as Truancy Officer for the local high school, a position that would help me learn new ways of communicating with families and their children. The following year I become a case manager for Department of Labour which later become the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) where I would spend the next 28 years as a public servant. I would do a number of roles during my time starting from Case Manager, Regional Iwi Relationship Manager and ending my service as Regional Labour Market Manager (RLMM) a position I held for 18 years. During my time with MSD I was able to gain qualifications 2009 Diploma in Māori Management & 2014 Degree in Masters Public Management.

During the 18 years with MSD I saw an alignment of the work I was doing as a RLMM. Bringing my LM knowledge to Ringa Hora would be of benefit to those that needed to enter into the work force with the right qualifications. My industry and sector knowledge would help that happen for those underserved in the education space. The priorities of Ringa Hora were the same as MSD, providing a better pathway to independence through training and education for Iwi Māori, Pacifica Peoples, Tangata Whaikaha and those under-served in the education system.

As a Tangata Whaikaha Lead, I see my role as a connector and relationship builder for those looking to enter into the workforce in the Service industry. Ringa Hora covers 12 sectors and each of those sectors have their workforce challenges. Helping to identify what those challenges are and how we can close the gaps of participation in the labour force for those priority groups mentioned above will be significant.  In short my role is to help close that gap, by providing opportunities for Iwi Māori, Pacifica peoples, Tangata Whaikaha, youth and under-served.

Encouraging employers that those with disabilities and neurodiversity offer their business more, if they understood the skill sets Tangata Whaikaha communities can be the answer to their workforce needs. Also, an area of which I think that Ringa Hora is leading for Workforce Development Council, is better understanding of Māori and Pacifica cultural needs. Ringa Hora can be proud of the work we are doing with industry and sectors, through the support we offer the Service industry with these 2 vital components which has the capability to transform our workforce and education system.