Press release: Taster course an eye-opener to local opportunity

benstevens Energy, eNews, News

An eight-day immersion in the career opportunities available across the electricity sector is being hailed as an example for all of New Zealand.

Kawerau District Mayor Malcolm Campbell, says he’s so impressed with the Taster Course model that he’ll be sharing it with The Mayors Taskforce For Jobs, a nationwide network of 67 civic leaders which works towards the vision of all young people under 25 being engaged in appropriate education and training towards employment.

Mr Campbell was amongst an audience of industry representatives and trainees’ families and supporters to hear the final presentations at the latest Taster Course, based at Tarawera High School over the Term 3 holidays. He says he can see other industries across the country picking up the hugely successful initiative that the Eastern Bay Energy Trust, together with training organisation Connexis, has been providing for selected Year 12 and 13 students for the past 13 years.

“I give credit to the young people who attended this year’s course. Their presentations showed just how much they’d gained in knowledge and direction about their futures. They give up a fair chunk of their holidays, so they have skin in the game, but most importantly, I recognise the support of the Energy Trust because without them, the course wouldn’t happen.”
Course tutor Ewen Graves, Technical Director of the Training Generation echoes Mr Campbell’s impression of the course participants.

“We had a great bunch of 10 trainees, with an interesting mix of experience, but all with a keenness to make the absolute most of their time with us. You always get your standouts and this year Rhys Cheesman (Whakatane High School), Te Rahui Miringaorangi (Trident High School) and Ben Wensor (Whakatane High School) really shone, with Ben taking the award for Top Trainee.”
Mr Graves says the key to the success of the course is the format that combines daytime learning programmes, interspersed with high-adrenaline outdoor team-building exercises and visits to electricity generation sites, power companies, large-scale manufacturing facilities and Hamilton’s Wintec.

He says another important aspect is the whanau environment created by staying at the school’s whare tapare and the commitment of the EBET team, which includes supervisors who support the trainees through what is an intense week of learning, physical effort, travel and for many, a period of significant personal growth.

Eastern Bay Energy Trust Manager Rawinia Kamau says the Taster Course was established to address a serious shortage of young people choosing the electricity sector as a career option. “The Trust decided to invest proactively in the sustainability of the electricity supply workforce by funding education and training programmes to help attract new talent.”

“When I came on board in 2014 I saw the opportunity to add even more value to the Taster experience by introducing supervisors with a very specific skill-set; people with military backgrounds who have added another dimension. Our supervisors, (George Kururangi, Jason Herring and Edwina O’Brien) encourage the trainees to consider the importance of how they present themselves and how they look after their health and wellbeing. I think the result of this more holistic approach gives our participants a broad spectrum of skills to transition from the school/home life environment to the working/training environment.

“We’re very grateful to our industry partners who open their sites and workplaces as part of the Taster Course. This year Trainees also got to visit the Aniwhenua Hydro-Electric Power Station and were suitably impressed with the scale and importance of these operations which are right on their own back door-steps.”

The Taster Course is just one initiative funded from Eastern Bay Energy Trust’s Education and Training grant pool, which in the current year has $240,000 to provide opportunities for energy education, including energy efficiency and safety in schools. Applications are currently open for the Trust’s Scholarship programme, which supports pre-trade, diploma and degree courses for study within energy-related fields. Full details of the Scholarship Programme are listed on

Pictured are students on site at Mercury Energy Geotherman Plant in Kawerau


For further information, contact:
Rawinia Kamau
Trust Manager, Eastern Bay Energy Trust
Phone 07 307 0893