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Construction stereotypes are taking a hammering at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, as three tauira wāhine pick up the tools for all the right reasons.

Auckland’s Taynisha Broughton, Mereanna Para and Nancy Edwards have faced many challenges in their lives, but studying the Level 3 Certificate in Construction Trade Skills-Carpentry programme is not one of them.

“It’s great. If you want it and that’s what you want to do, try it, you might like it. It’s good fun,” says Taynisha.

Her desire to learn carpentry honours her Ngāti Ruanui father, a builder, who passed away when she was 28.

Growing up on his work-sites, Taynisha now wants to consolidate her knowledge and skills with a formal qualification.

“He taught me a lot so being here is good because it feels like he’s around.”

She hopes he'd be proud of what she's doing “and if I get a job that would be a bonus”.

For Mereana of Ngā Puhi, being her own boss in the trades is a goal she’s closer to nailing.

 “I want to be my own contractor as a carpenter so just learning these hands-on practical skills is awesome. I love it,” she says.

“Having other females on course is good too. To have that mix there is good. Everyone gets on.”

 Nancy says she wanted to try something new and has no regrets moving from the office to the workshop.

 “I’m mainly a computer person so I didn’t think I’d be doing this but I’m liking it. It’s actually better than sitting at a desk. I get to move around and I’m enjoying myself.”

The Manurewa resident, of Tainui descent says crunching the numbers is hard, but with support from her peers her confidence keeps growing as she considers a building apprenticeship.

 “Don’t worry what people think and don’t be scared to put yourself out there. You can accomplish anything if you want to.”

 Kaiwhakahaere Ako Tony Gomwe says he is encouraged by the increase in wāhine participation and credits kaiako John Olo-Whaanga, small class sizes, individual attention and technology driven learning for this.

“Te Wānanga o Aotearoa provides an all-inclusive and supportive environment right from the beginning. It’s just a real look at how we are different.”

Construction apprenticeship provider BCITO chief executive Warwick Quinn says more than 65,000 construction workers are needed over the next five years to meet industry demand.

 “The sector is crying out for workers and our traditional workforce pools are not meeting demand – boosting gender diversity is vital.”

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