Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters cuts the ribbon on the first home built by Dargaville high School building academy trainees. Organisers have petitioned the Provincial Growth Fund to roof the site for all-year building training

Building toward tomorrow

by Andy Bryenton

The first home built by the students of Dargaville High School’s Building Academy has been formally opened by Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters and blessed not only as a family home by kaumatua Rex Nathan but as a concept by dignitaries from local and central government.

Head tutor and educator of the academy, Tim Pratt, said the project was the only building academy of its kind in New Zealand, training future tradespeople in a secondary school environment.

“It’s a source of pride for all of us. There have been 29 apprenticeships earned here over the years since we began. We are making history here.”

Mr Peters, cutting the ribbon on the inaugural home, said “there is no horizon to a practical skill,” noting that with the current average age of an apprentice at 26, it’s time to think about starting prospective tradespeople younger. He added that the programme, and potentially others like it could address housing shortages.

DHS principal Michael Horton agreed, saying: “This is the first house built here, but it is the beginning of something big.”

Another home stands half-complete next to the first, awaiting the attention of a new intake of students.

Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith told the assembled students: “Your skills are needed for all New Zealand. Kaipara district is the fastest growing in the North Island, with 20.6 per cent population growth since the last census.

These people need houses!”