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Māori & Pasifika Student Profiles

Wintec Māori and Pasifika Trade Training Programme

Sheldon Takao

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Apprentice at Commercial Construction

All about attitude

For Sheldon Takao, 21, building is all about being active and having a good attitude.

An apprentice at Commercial Construction, Frankton, Sheldon draws inspiration from his boss, Wayne Besley, who he says is disciplined and “always on his toes”.

Sheldon says for him a good attitude means “active listening, not arguing about what you are told and time keeping”.

“I always love to work fast.”

He also loves sport and that’s the reason, he says, that he wanted to be a personal trainer. However an ankle injury didn’t let him go further in sports sciences and he opted for the Certificate in Building at Wintec instead. It’s a decision that’s working out. He was named top student on the course in 2015, and got a job straight after finishing studying. He considers himself fortunate to be working in the construction industry.

He is grateful for the Wintec Māori and Pasifika Trade Training Programme, and gives credit to his tutors who helped him find the job.

The work is hard, but rewarding. “Structure is what my job is all about,” he says.

There is a good amount of mathematics involved in construction work and it becomes challenging on commercial sites. A residential site may take six months to complete, while a commercial construction may take a full year.

When he was at Taumarunui High School, his physical education teacher Mitchell Tupper advised him to opt for a career in sports, bearing in mind his enthusiasm for fitness. Other teachers were also supportive, and helped him find the course at Wintec.

In 2010, Sheldon got an opportunity to play basketball at the New Zealand secondary schools basketball nationals. However, his favourite sport was rugby.

“I like to be active all the time and fitness is important for that.”

For now, that includes going to the gym and playing rugby at weekends. He thinks he may return to sports sciences, probably after completing his apprenticeship. He also aspires one day to visit the United States to explore career opportunities.

Sheldon is of Ngāti Maniapoto and Tūhoe descent. He is proud of his 17th century ancestor Maniapoto, who in the last days of his life directed the men to hold on to their Māori culture.

But speaking te reo isn’t easy. “Nobody taught me Māori in high schools… speaking Māori is a tough task,” he says.

In his family only his grandparents were used to speaking te reo. Sheldon has two older brothers and his mother, who works on a farm. Unfortunately in 2012, he lost his father to liver cancer. He holds great respect for his mother who never gave up despite losing her partner unexpectedly, and who brought up three children while looking after family affairs.

Spending time with family and friends is the mainstay of Sheldon’s fun and entertainment. This is also his way of celebrating Matariki. “Eat, drink and be merry.”

His advice to youngsters: “Focus on your area of interest, try to be an active listener and believe in yourself. You will get good results.”