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Working his way up from sweeping the floors and shovelling to Machine Operator has been part of Wirihana Matangi’s journey through Dempsey Wood.  Now he’s on the Whakapuāwai programme, gaining leadership tools and going from strength to strength.


“Just recently while I’ve been doing this course, I was promoted to Machine Operator.  It feels cool to be acknowledged for my work,” says Wirihana. His goal for the future is to become a leading hand or lead a crew for Dempsey Wood.

“I strongly feel that Whakapuāwai is helping me to become the leader that I aspire to be, both at home and at work.”

The Whakapūawai leadership programme is a partnership between Dempsey Wood Civil and Te Pūni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Māori Development.  Upskills and Cultural Advisor, Ike Rakena, are supporting the roll-out of the programme.

Wirihana values the Te Ao Māori threads of Whakapuāwai. Especially the support to go back to his roots and gather up a bit more information about his whakapapa which stretches to the East Coast of Aotearoa and up North (Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāpuhi).

“It’s probably helped in the sense that knowing where I’m from helps with where I’m going to go,” he says.

The key takeaways for this Auckland born and raised cadet, are learning about SMART goals and teaching his whānau these tools, including his 7-year-old daughter.

“I’ve also learned about staying above the line and a growth mindset and these are starting to rub off on my whānau.”

The matauranga Māori lens of Whakapuāwai has meant Wirihana is comfortable with the learning format and whakawhanaungatanga with other participants.

“I think it’s good for me because it just fits my way of learning. With other Māori on the course as well – you can just kind of relate to everyone else.”

Wirihana thinks the Whakapuāwai kaupapa is awesome for the Dempsey Wood whānau. “Thank you for the opportunity to gain leadership tools.” He says.


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About Whakapuāwai 

Upskills Ltd.

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