Taratahi training centre reopens as Govt aims to attract jobseekers to primary sector

Taster courses start every three weeks.
Taster courses start every three weeks. Photo credit: Supplied

An agricultural training centre in the Wairarapa has had fresh life breathed back into it after reopening on Thursday.

The Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre in Wairarapa went into liquidation in 2018, but with the Government pinning much of the country's COVID-19 economic recovery hopes on the primary industries the centre is now up and running again.

Taster and farm familiarisation courses will take place at the facility, aimed especially at helping workers displaced from other industries into the primary sector.

The Government hopes to train up 1000 people and has invested $1.2 million into the programme.

"Taratahi’s liquidation left a large gap in agricultural education in this country," Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said on Thursday.

"A lot of hours have been put in by a lot of people to get us to where we are today. I’m absolutely thrilled. 

"There are significant employment opportunities in our primary industries and we are committed to helping to train people to have the skills they need for the opportunities in front of us. Our agricultural training institutions have never had a more important role to play."

With the country's borders closed and many migrant workers unable to enter the country there is a severe labour shortage in parts of the primary industries. Earlier this week O'Connor said it was not likely those migrant workers would be allowed into the country any time soon as the pandemic appeared to be worsening around the globe.

The Government's priority, he said, was in training up New Zealanders to do those jobs.

In total, the Government is hoping to attract 10,000 Kiwis to the primary sector over the coming years.

As part of that push the Opportunity Grows Here campaign was launched earlier this week to make it easier for people to find information around employment opportunities in the sector.

Terry Copeland, chief executive of Federated Farmers, said on Thursday the new training facility gave people interested in giving agricultural work a go "a viable entry point" to the sector.

"There has been a rich tradition of well-trained graduates from Taratahi, and it’s great that it's back. Whilst it will benefit the Wairarapa in the short term, we know from experience that future graduates will find great jobs throughout the country."

The first taster course began with seven people taking part. They will be joined by four more people to focus on dairying for two weeks.

Currently there are courses on dairy, apiculture and agricultural contracting. It is planned that courses on wool harvesting, silviculture, horticulture and sheep and beef will be added later in the year.

Taster courses start every three weeks.