Discovering the power of learning

Martin Svehla Civil, Civil Trades, eNews, News

Ned Hala — second from the left

Ned Hala likes a challenge. After spending much of his early working life in the meat works he made the change to civil infrastructure nine years ago and has never looked back.

“If I’d known how much I’d love Civil, I would never have even tried working in the meat works. I love the team mentality — ‘one team, one dream’, and I love that there is always a new challenge and you’re working outside. In the meat works, I found it was quite the same every day and you’re inside. I couldn’t see myself staying there forever,” he says.

After starting out with a smaller family-owned company in the Bay of Plenty, Ned made the move to Feilding and now works with Downer. One of the aspects of his current job is the support he gets from Downer to pursue training and get qualifications.

Since 2021 he has completed New Zealand Certificates in Infrastructure Works (L2), Infrastructure Works (L3), and Infrastructure Works (Civil) (L4) — Earthworks Strand through Connexis | Te Pūkenga.

“I’ve been lucky to have had a lot of support through my study, from Downer and from Linda [Shailer, Connexis customer service account manager]. They’re always challenging me to push myself,” says Ned adding that his Downer superintendent Hamish Croad and mentor Jarrod Telford have also been hugely supportive and motivating.

“They have made it so much easier to get through some of the challenges. If I was stuck there was always someone there to help me find the answer.”

Ned, whose mother is Ngāti Porou and father is Tongan, is now a big advocate for young people from all backgrounds to get started on their training early. “I’m all about the career pathway now, and upskilling. When I’m talking to people at Downer who have just started, I keep telling them to get straight on the books because there’s a great career pathway there for you if you want to progress and learn.

“I’m 35 now, and if I’d had the confidence and drive to learn when I was younger, who knows where I’d be.”

Ned is committed to keeping up his training and adding to his skillset, considering a New Zealand Certificate in Infrastructure Works — Single Site Supervision (Level 4) next.

“I just want a broad perspective and knowledge in the whole earthworks sector, and gain as much knowledge as I can while I still have a good brain on me!”

For now, Ned is moving on to a new project with Downer, as a foreman on Wellington’s shared pathway project, a long way from where he started as a labourer at the Turitea Windfarm project. He’s also continuing to help support the company’s rangitahi on their own learning pathways, and working on a Māori leadership course to develop future stars.

“I just have so much support around me at Downer and with Connexis, it makes me want to not let myself down.”