Iwi partnerships


Competenz signs with Waikato-Tainui to upskill iwi members

Competenz signed an historic agreement with Waikato-Tainui as the iwi looks to increase the career opportunities of its people.

Eleven of New Zealand’s industry training organisations and the Industry Training Federation (ITF) signed agreements, or kawenata, in a ceremony at the Waikato Endowed College in Hopuhopu, in February 2018. For Competenz, signing the kawenata was a commitment to work with Waikato-Tainui on its 30-year plan. The agreement was two years’ in the making.

At the time of signing, Competenz CE Fiona Kingsford said she was looking forward to growing the relationship with Waikato- Tainui and supporting their members on their life-long learning journey, gaining qualifications and setting themselves up for successful careers in our industries. The agreements are designed to give iwi members options to arm themselves with the skills they require to stand proudly as future parents and leaders.


The relationship with Waikato-Tainui has already seen Competenz apprentices, who are part of the iwi, receive direct support to help them through their learning, with further opportunities confirmed for 2019.

Waikato-Tainui CEO Donna Flavell says she is excited by the possibilities. “This is untested ground for these ITOs, but they have taken a bold step and the signals that they have sent to the market will have far reaching and positive consequences for our people and our region,” Donna said.

“For our people this is also about earning while they are actively engaged in learning through mechanisms like apprenticeships.”

With the number of ITOs involved, Donna indicated they will be able to gather data that is relevant and up-to-date, which is critical because it allows them to adapt and refine their approach to the careers’ market.

Waikato-Tainui is an iwi with 68 marae and 70,000 registered members focused on education and employment outcomes for their people.

Ngāi Tahu


In June 2018, Competenz formed part of an ITO group that signed an memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Ngāi Tahu, led by Tokona Te Raki – Māori Trades Training, Competenz, Connexis, BCITO and SkillsOrg. With all parties committed to improving Māori education and employment outcomes in Te Waipounamu – the South Island, the MOU recognises that working together means better results for trainees, workers, whānau and various industry organisations.

Goals align

The group’s goals of building a strong workforce with more highly skilled people, partnerships, valuing and creating opportunities for young people and women, influencing industry to build a culture of mentoring, promoting the visibility and value of careers within the group’s industries, and providing a living wage, means they are well poised to support priority learners.

The Māori Job Squad

Ngāi Tahu, along with the ITO group, later decided to operate in Te Waipounamu as the Māori Job Squad to work with employers, students and families. The collective and interactive career, education and employment training team worked with sixty senior students in Greymouth, and a group of senior students in Kaikoura in August 2018, to give them insight into how they can achieve education and employment goals through local work-based training options, polytechnics and university.

Teachers from Greymouth High School were impressed with the impact the day had on their students and the options they have for training. The team is keen to continue to build tools, relationships and networks across the South Island.