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If your house is your castle, then Qalandar Skeandar must feel like a king.

The 44-year-old picked up the tools last year to build a house as part of his Te Wānanga o Aotearoa carpentry programme, and has no plans to put them down.

"Every day I see the growth of Auckland and what good it will bring for the future," says the father of three.

"I want to be in this business."

From Tajikistan, in the former Soviet Union, Qalandar came to New Zealand with his family in 2009. 

Although equipped with a Masters' Degree in advertising from a University in Moscow, he was unable to speak any English.

After getting some language tuition, Qalandar first came to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in 2012, to take the Level 2 First Steps to Business programme.  

It was this positive learning experience that brought him back through the doors a few years later to ask about working in the building industry.

He talked to John Olo-Whaanga, kaiako for the Certificate in Applied Technology, majoring in carpentry. He liked what he heard and enrolled.

"I understood John and I knew he was a good teacher and a good person," says Qalandar.

Through the Level 4 programme - located at Ngā Whare Waatea in Māngere - Qalandar became acquainted with the health and safety aspects of the building industry, including legislation and compliance.

He was also taught how to operate power, portable and hand tools used in the construction process, but the tangible hands-on tuition came in the form of building a single level, timber framed, relocatable house with his class mates.

"The boys - 17, 18, 19 - they were smart boys," he says.

"It was not easy but yes it's been worthwhile. Every day I would get better and the teachers, they're like your friends. All the staff are good. From the managers to the receptionist." 

But the best part of the experience, he says, is being that much closer to owning his own business working in construction in Auckland. 

He's re-enrolled with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa once again but this time it's for a Level 4 Certificate in English Language so that he can take his building study even further and commit to a Bachelor in Construction Management in the near future.

"I would do it here if I could because I like it here. Here, the feeling is good."


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Published On: March 15, 2017

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