Mayors Taskforce for Jobs Rangitīkei coordinator James Towers, Ngaire-Ann Takimoana and her manager Gavin Zanders. Photo/Supplied
Veggie farming was the last thing on a Marton woman’s mind when she was unemployed and looking for work.
But now Ngaire-Ann Takimoana is 2IC of her team at Waitatapia Farming, which produces vegetables for Speirs Foods in Rangitīkei.
Takimoana did a Mahi Tahi training course run by Rangitīkei District Council through the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs (MTFJ) Community Recovery Programme.
In 2020, Ngaire-Ann was an 18-year-old seasonal worker at a meat processing plant in Marton. When her seasonal job ended, she found herself out of work and struggling.
She had spent months looking for work and was at a loss before she connected with the Programme.
“If it wasn’t for them helping me get this job, I wouldn’t have known it existed.”
Takimoana was also supported through MTFJ to purchase work gear and get help with transport.
Without this she would have had to use a week’s pay which she needed for bills and food.
“I feel like this job has changed me for the better and it really challenges me.”
Her manager, Gavin Zander, says MTFJ enabled the farm to take Takimoana on for a trial nearly two years ago and her drive, ethics and ability led them to hire her permanently.
“She’s passionate about her job and she gets on well with everyone. We really like her.
“The staff look up to her and she’s thriving at the challenge of leading the team.
“It’s been a pleasure having Ngaire-Ann work here and to see her mature and grow.”
The farm has taken on a number of new employees with the help of the Community Recovery Programme.
The Rangitikei coordinator puts the right people forward and they’ve all had good jobs because of the programme, Zander says.
“They’ve all been a bit lost before they came here, it gives them a good start in the workforce even if they move onto another job later.”
Last financial year, more than 1300 youth and COVID-19 displaced workers were placed into sustainable employment in rural New Zealand as part of the MTFJ Community Recovery Programme, an important partnership with the Ministry of Social Development, funded through their Industry Partnerships team, that provides rural councils with funds to target unemployment in their regions.
This year, councils are on track to exceed last year's target, and many have already exceeded their targets including Buller, Ōtorohanga, Rangitīkei and Westland.
Rangitīkei Mayor Andy Watson says great teamwork has been important.
“Especially our relationship with local MSD Work Broker Louise McCoard and the collaborative relationship we have with Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa which has enabled us to be based on site at their Rūnanga.
“This initiative…just has to continue into the future – it’s one of the best social initiatives Council has undertaken in the 18 years I have been involved in Local Government.”
Westland Mayor Bruce Smith says relationship building between the small business community and the local MTFJ team has been key to their success.
“The fund has offered a boost to employers who in some cases would not otherwise take on an additional employee.
“This has, in turn, allowed some businesses to grow and keep up with demand as well as feed into the future workforce of the Westland District.”
Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine says the programme has stimulated economic development by giving confidence to small businesses and startups to expand and take on new staff during times of uncertainty.
“The programme provides the ability to support mostly small business owners, retain youth in the district, and enable sustainable growth.
“It has also increased the diversity among our workforce including more women, and ethnic and age diversity as people transition into new careers.”
Ōtorohanga Mayor and MTFJ chair Max Baxter says the Ōtorohanga Employment Hub has and continues to demonstrate the importance of locals making local connections which is necessary in the creation of successful employment outcomes.
“The diverse range of services offered by the Employment Hub has given both employers and future employees the confidence necessary for sustainable relationships.
As MTFJ Chair, Baxter has been impressed with the success of the programme nationally which has been life-changing for rangatahi, small businesses and their communities.
“The outcomes achieved have exceeded any expectations even the most optimistic of us could have dreamed.”