Taratahi-Telford off to good start

Clutha Leader - - FRONT PAGE - MARY-JO TO­HILL

‘‘The signs are all there that [Maori] are go­ing to be a big­ger part of the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try in the fu­ture.’’

The new Taratahi-Telford re­la­tion­ship has got off to a pos­i­tive start with a swell in stu­dent num­bers, largely due to a re­cent in­flux of Whenua Kura - Maori agri­cul­tural stu­dents.

In the two weeks since Taratahi Agri­cul­tural Train­ing Cen­tre of­fi­cially took over the Telford cam­pus near Bal­clutha, 27 Maori and Pa­cific trades train­ing pro­gramme stu­dents have been in­ducted into cour­ses, bring­ing stu­dent num­bers up to about 100.

With the six Whenua Kura al­ready en­gaged in study since last year, this meant Maori stu­dents made up a third of the cam­pus, Taratahi chief ex­ec­u­tive Arthur Graves con­firmed. Taratahi had forged strong ties with the iwi-in­dus­try based pro­gramme, which would carry on at Telford and build on the ini­tial in­take of 10 Whenua Kura stu­dents last year.

‘‘Our work is all based on part­ner­ships and col­lab­o­ra­tions, so we’re part­ner­ing with Maori,’’ he said. ‘‘The signs are all there that they’re go­ing to be a big­ger part of the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try in the fu­ture.’’

Across Taratahi’s farms and cam­puses from North­land to South­land, 42 per cent of stu­dents were Maori, a Taratahi spokesper­son said.

While these stu­dents had been in­ducted through the Hokonui Marae at Gore and in­tro­duced to Ngai Tahu cul­ture and val­ues, there was still ‘‘a bed­ding down pe­riod’’ while they got set­tled into the Telford cam­pus, he said. Whenua Kura and the Hokonui runanga had its own sup­port sys­tem for the health and well­be­ing of these stu­dents.

Wairarapa-based Taratahi was in the process of fi­nal­is­ing cour­ses at Telford that re­flected vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion, and the ‘‘real train­ing on real farms’’ ethic, Graves said. The train­ing cen­tre would be work­ing in with other agri­cul­tural ter­tiary sub­de­gree providers such as Massey and Lin­coln uni­ver­si­ties, he said. Study pro­grammes on both the Wairarapa and Telford cam­puses would be ‘‘fu­ture fo­cused’’ to re­flect the fu­ture of farm­ing, not just in New Zealand but on a global scale.

‘‘It’s go­ing to a mat­ter of how we make sure stu­dents have the skills to cope with a chang­ing in­dus­try.’’

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