(L-R): OE Instructor Kyle Ellison and Residential Manager Lawrence Ereatara at Te Awa School. A model marae built by men at Hawke's Bay Regional Prison has been gifted to Te Awa School in Napier.

OE Instructor Kyle Ellison says the presentation in September was made extra special as part of a recognition of essential workers who kept the country safe during the COVID-19 restrictions, including Fire Service, Police and Corrections, Red Cross, Community health provider Te Kupenga Hauora, and other ‘community heroes’.

The model marae was built as part of the men’s Limited Credit Programme certificate in wood manufacturing. The men fully participate in the kaupapa of the programme, which encourages them to give back to the community with their woodwork.

OE Instructor Kyle Ellison is proud of the 100% programme completion rate. “The course incorporates Māori values into the learning and is hitting the mark, as the men participate fully and get a lot out of it,” says Kyle.

As the men develop their carpentry and joinery skills they learn the structure and tikanga around the marae. Graduates of the programme can move on to the next stage of the course, which is the NZ Certificate in SWM L2 Timber grading.

Kyle attended the presentation at the school. The programme started with a powhiri, showcasing the children’s cultural talent. A hangi followed as well as gifts for the essential workers to acknowledge their commitment during COVID-19. The handover of the model marae to the school concluded the event.

Principal Tim Van Zyl accepted the marae with appreciation saying that Te Awa School will be the kaitiaki of the marae, which will be used for the children’s education. He said during his speech that  “the children need their fathers, and with some of them in prison, it is important that they return home from prison with skills and education and restored mana, so they can help build a good future for their children.”

The fourth and final wood manufacturing course for the year graduates on the 17 December. “Our next model marae is going to Omahu School and construction of this is well underway with the presentation scheduled for early December,” says Kyle.