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 pine 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. Now he works for Wintec, supporting Arboriculture tutors, John Woolford, Dan Goodman and Jonathan Summers 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,
Waho says arboriculture is physically demanding and as the students have progressed through their first semester, moving from chainsaw training to tree care and climbing, they’ve encountered something they may not have expected: “They’re telling us this course has been a major life change for them, and their lives are better for it.”
Waho splits his time between tutoring in Raglan, working as an arboriculturist and teaching chainsaw safety and use to Industry Training Organisations (ITOs). 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.
It’s lunchtime and the stew is ready. The ute and trailer are loaded up with chainsaws and safety gear, and the group make its way to the kitchen.
“Don’t forget my pine stool,” calls out one of the students. She has fashioned a four-legged stool...