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“Grab a hold of any opportunity” – Teina expresses. With our ‘Where are you now series’ we’re able to gain insight into Teina’s journey having completed the Whakapuāwai programme. Whakapuāwai is a collaborative leadership experience between Te Puni Kōkiri, Dempsey Wood Civil and Upskills.

At Upskills, we truly value leaving a learning legacy and positive encouragement for our learners. 

Teina completed his ‘Whakapuāwai’ training in 2021 and has stepped through to his current role as a Foreman. Great work Teina. Your willingness to grow in your industry is inspiring.


Name: Teina Johnstone

Role: Foreman

Employer: Dempsey Wood Civil


What do you enjoy about working at Dempsey Wood?

What I enjoy the most about working at Dempsey would have to be the daily challenges before me, and seeing some of them completed as it helps progress further into the project.

What’s been your career path to get to your current role?

My journey started in September 2018 as a labourer. I worked on several Dempsey sites between Whenuapai and Hobsonville. Within 3.5 years I gained a lot of knowledge and understanding of what was required to start and complete a subdivision. I graduated from the Whakapuāwai programme in 2021 and was offered a new contract as a foreman by the end of the year. Something I wasn’t expecting for at least another two years. I’ve stepped up and I am growing in my new role.

What have been the 3 most important things you’ve learned along the way?

3 important things I have learnt would have to be:

  1. Commitment
  2. Availability
  3. Presentation

How did participating in Upskills Whakapuāwai programme support your learning journey?

Taking part in the Whakapuāwai programme taught me a lot about myself, as in where I needed to upskill as a leader/foreman. I felt I definitely gained a lot more growth which has helped me with my approach towards my teammates, and generally how I can improve in the position I’m currently placed in. Growth has played a big part in my career.

What advice do you have to others looking to climb the career ladder?

Grasp hold of any opportunity. You can be upskilled in any area possible because you don’t know when your window of opportunity will be open again. Even if you feel that you want to step up to better your career, ask a workmate or site manager if there’s anything available through Dempsey Wood. I recommend anyone who wants to lead a team to do the Whakapuāwai programme – it’s so worth it!

Tell us about one of your role models:

Role models, I have two people. The first one is Mack Connor,  six months into my employment with Dempsey Wood he spoke at a Manaaki Tangata course run by himself and Peeni Tuhoro. Mack said these words, “We all start from the bottom but no matter how hard work gets for you, just hang in there. It will get better! Stay committed and they’ll promote you to driving loaders and small dump trucks.” It will get better, hang in there, very wise words! Thanks Mack.

Also, Kris Byles, is one of the Dempsey Wood veterans. A man with an overflow of knowledge and the humblest foreman’s I know. Always willing to help you anywhere he can, the type of leadership I’ve been hungry to work under.

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About Dempsey Wood

Upskills Ltd.

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