The chainsaws are out at Wintec's new Raglan delivery site
Nooti Waho (front left) with students, Wintec staff and community partners at a whakatau (welcome) for the commencement of the new Arboriculture L3 programme at Whāingaroa ki te whenua Kōkiri Centre.
The aromatic smell of a lamb stew on the stove and the comforting sound of potatoes being mashed for lunch is a warm welcome to the site of Wintec’s newest teaching space at the Kōkiri Centre in Whaingaroa, Raglan.
About 250 metres away, the sound of chainsaws cutting into the gnarly old pines by the beach is a sign the Arboriculture Level 3 class is getting a practical lesson from their tutor Nooti Waho (Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Tongoiti).
Waho says “the pines area is starting to get out of hand”.
“There is pine regeneration, a bit of gorse and the property owners want more recreational area. On the students’ chainsaw practical days, we are selecting trees to remove and trees to remain to encourage an environment for native restoration. As the native trees start establishing, more pines can be removed in the future, giving the area diversity and character.”
Waho, who grew up in Taupō where he gained his forestry experience, loves it here at the Kōkiri Centre. He completed Level 5 Arboriculture at Wintec in 2020 after two years as an adult student, winning a 2019 Wintec Adult Learner Award on the way, and now he works for Wintec, supporting Arboriculture tutor, John Woolford three days a week in Raglan.
“Tree identification, tree pruning, and tree health are the more important aspects of arboriculture, and Level 3 gives our students an introduction to these disciplines,” says Waho.
“Our arboriculture students need to be competent chainsaw operators before they venture into climbing, pruning, and tree care. That’s where I can help, and I am honoured to be part of their learning experience, kia ora.”
Waho splits his time tutoring in Raglan, working as an arboriculturist and he’s just started teaching chainsaw safety and use to ITOs (Industry Training Organisations). As a recent graduate, he knows first-hand how tough it can be to be a student and there is a real sense of whānau and community in this group.
“They have a long day, and there is a lot to learn, so once a week we have a shared lunch to get everyone together.”
Waho has supplied the meat for the main course.
“I pruned my aunty and uncle’s plum trees and they gave me a sheep, the chops are now in the pot,” he smiles.
“Johnny, who is on kitchen duty today, was working on a cruise ship before he joined us, and I asked him if he could make an Irish stew. He knew what I meant straight away.”
Nooti Waho, a Wintec Level 5 Arboriculture graduate has returned to teach at Wintec’s new delivery site at the Kōkiri Centre at Te Kōpua in Raglan.
It’s lunchtime and the stew is ready. The ute and trailer are loaded up with chainsaws and safety gear, and the group make their way to the kitchen.
“Don’t forget my pine stool,” calls out one of the students. She has fashioned a four-legged stool from a pine stump during chainsaw practise and it goes on the tray too.
Raglan people were quick to take up the opportunity of free arboriculture training this year. The class of 12 is full and they are an even mix of male and female. Waho says it’s good to have six female and six male students in this class and to see more and more females in the arboriculture industry. They are all engaged and keen to learn.
The first cohort of students are at Level 3, basic arboriculture and they have the option to progress to Level 4 within a year, to qualify as an arborist. At Level 5, arborists learn technical and supervisory skills and there is also a Level 6 diploma.
The Kōkiri Centre at Te Kōpua is on land that was famously returned by the Government to iwi in 1983, thanks to Māori land rights activist, Tuaiwa (Eva) Rickard. The former golf course is framed by the sea and the estuary, and for some years, Te Kōpua has been the site of a camping ground which has funded improvements to the site. Wintec now delivers free Level 3 Horticulture, Landscape Construction and Arboriculture courses from its Raglan campus based at the Kōkiri Centre on Riria Kereopa Drive.
Find out more about studying arboriculture at Wintec.