In 2012, when Cori Pokotea left college without a NCEA qualification, she never thought that one day she would be providing an essential service through a global pandemic.
Having graduated with a New Zealand Certificate in Electrical Engineering (Level 3) from Whitireia at the Porirua campus, and then snapped up by electrical company, Paradise Power, to work as an apprentice, Cori spent the COVID-19 lockdown providing emergency electrical services to families in the Hutt Valley.
“Ovens, hot water cylinders and lights break all the time, even when the country is in lockdown”, says Cori. “So we were pretty much run off our feet the whole time. It was quite stressful going into peoples’ homes both for me and the person I was helping. We had to wear masks and gloves. But I really liked helping out, especially our clients who were higher needs, and a little frightened by everything.”
Cori was only one of two female graduates to complete a level three certificate in electrical engineering at Whitireia in 2019, and finished top of her class.
“Cori is a role model student and through hard work and determination landed a great job straight after leaving us, she is a committed worker and applies herself 100% to genuinely helping others,” says Cori’s Whitireia tutor, Alan Lee.
“Although there are not many female electrical engineers, we are hopeful that this will change,” says Alan. “Cori has certainly helped pave the way and Paradise Power has already taken on their second ever female apprentice – another Whitireia student.”
“I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to be an electrician,” says Cori. “But I was always told that trades were for men. Women and men have different perspectives and see things in different ways so I personally think it is beneficial to have both in the team.”
But this pathway to success has not always come easy for Cori.
“School was not really my thing, which is why I left early in Year 11, but then I moved from the Waikato to Titahi Bay and enrolled at Whitireia in Porirua, which was close to my Nan where I was living. It was a great learning environment for me,” says Cori. “The course work was challenging, but the tutors were hugely supportive and helpful. I still keep in touch with them now!”
Cori was supported through her study at Whitireia by the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training Scholarship (MPTT).
Sam Atoni was Cori’s MPTT Engagement Mentor and explains the benefit of this bespoke support: “Our job is to support the students so they can be the best they can be,” says Sam. “We assist with providing tools, driver’s licence programme and pastoral care. The best outcome for us is if students can get work experience while they study so they can see how to apply themselves and their knowledge in a real life environment. The goal is to secure an apprenticeship or employment at the end of study.
“But to be honest, with Cori, she did all the hard work and had unique initiative, she is just ‘that’ person and is an amazing role model,” says Sam.
Ruth Lavelle-Treacy 021 104 6909
Further information on the New Zealand Certificate in Electrical Engineering (Level 3)
Designed to prepare you for an apprenticeship. Learn introductory electrical theory and regulations. Build practical skills such as circuit wiring and how to use power instruments. Train in our workshops where you’ll diagnose and fix electrical faults.
You will learn:
Gain an understanding of electrical theory and practical skills
Learn the use of test instruments and take measures
Develop skills in circuit drawing
Carry out practical wiring and testing of electrical systems
Participate in basic wiring practices
Learn how to diagnose and fix faults
Learn safe worksite practice and acquire the ability to identify electrical hazards
Further information on the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training
Māori and Pasifika students looking to learn a trade can apply for a Māori and Pasifika Trades Training scholarship, which is a government-funded scholarship to cover full fees and course-related costs.
Our staff and mentors are here to support you on your learning journey. We provide mentoring, pastoral, cultural and academic support. Our job brokers can help you find and prepare for work, including getting your driver’s license, site safety or first aid certificates.
You need to meet the entry criteria for the programme you are enrolling in and be:
• of Māori or Pasifika descent
• 16-40 years old at the start of your study
• a New Zealand citizen or Permanent Resident
• able to meet the entry requirements for your programme
|A list of programmes can be found here.|