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“It wasn’t anything like I expected, but in a good way!”



When bulldozer operator Tanya Wyatt was selected to join Dempsey Wood Civil’s Whakapuāwai course, she wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

The programme, a leadership journey delivered through a Te Ao Māori lens, aims to grow Māori leaders through the business.


“It wasn’t anything like I expected but in a good way!” laughs Tanya.  “I have learned a lot because it gets me thinking outside of the box, and thinking critically,” she says.


Group learning

Tanya (Rereahu) is currently driving bulldozers and other yellow plant at Dempsey Wood Civil’s Ohinewai site in the Waikato.  For her, the group learning environment along with the facilitators’ energy and patience has been key to success.

“I love our group and just the laughs we have together, the good sense of humour and everybody helping everybody else.”

Whakapuāwai is inspired by the whakatauki – Poipoia te kākano, he puawai. It translates to ‘nurture the seed, and it will blossom’.  Planting the leadership seed within the 2022 roopu for the programme has seen growth in each individual as well as for Dempsey Wood Civil.

Graduates have stepped up to leadership in meaningful ways for them. Some continue on a learning and career pathway and others lead in supported Māori initiatives throughout the organisation.

Supported by the kaupapa and funding of Te Puni Kōkiri, the programme delivers an NZQA Level 3 Leadership qualification woven together with Māori concepts and models of leadership.

Dempsey Wood Kaiārahi Isaac Rakena was alongside participants and Upskills for the Whakapuāwai journey. He aligned and guided with a matauranga Māori framework as well as supported participants in their Māoritanga.

Tanya graduated from the programme with her roopu at Makaurau Marae.  Connecting with her Māori side has been an important part of the journey.

“I think it’s been quite cool because I didn’t really know that much of my history.  It’s been good learning Māori words and tikanga in general.  And learning the whakapapa on my Mum’s side has been really special and a connection I hope to keep going with.”


What’s next?

As an up-and-coming leader in her industry, the future career pathways look clearer now for Tanya. She wants to keep learning and grow others.

“I can help the team to grow, because I know what it’s like on the ground and I can also see it from management’s point of view too.”

Tanya aims to move into a leadership role in future and has been identified as a potential future engineer for Dempsey Wood.

Established in 2010, the Te Puni Kōkiri Cadetships programme supports organisations to develop, mentor and train their permanent Māori staff at all career stages into higher-skilled roles.

Ka mau te wehi to our graduating roopu of Whakapuāwai in 2022.  Ehara!  Ko koe te ringa e huti punga!  Congratulations to our group of graduates, and a mihi to Te Puni Kōkiri and Dempsey Wood Civil for an awesome collaboration.



Whakapuāwai 2022 Grads talk about their journey.


Upskills Ltd.

Address: 93 Church St, Onehunga, Auckland 1061
Free parking: 120 minutes, Gerrard Beeson Pl.
Phone: 09 622 3979