First Apprentice Ranger Graduates

Tipunakore Rangiwai (centre) celebrating his achievement with Ngahina Capper and Sean Zieltjes

The first apprentice ranger to graduate with Taranaki Mounga Project has blazed the trail for others to follow.

Tipunakore Rangiwai recently celebrated completing the two-year kaiwhakamōkihi/trainee ranger programme and is now part of the Te Kāhui o Taranaki Toa Taiao team working as a ranger to protect pā and other special places within the takiwā of Taranaki Iwi.

Tipunakore says it feels amazing to have completed the apprenticeship and he has enjoyed gaining experience with like-minded people in the same environment.

“It was a good apprenticeship with everything packed into it; lots of seminars, meeting people and gaining knowledge. I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone. It feels like it’s where I’m meant to be –working with the whenua.”

He joined Taranaki Mounga Project four years ago when he was 16 and helped inform the development of the apprentice programme, of which 4 others are also part of and will be graduating later this year.

Taranaki Mounga Project co-director Sean Zieltjes said Tipunakore had brought so much to the team, especially his courage and grit.

“We wouldn’t have gone after the apprentice programme the way we have without Tipunakore.  A lot of the thinking behind it has been informed by him and his ideas. It’s been mutually reciprocal for us.

“Jessi and the team at Predator Free NZ Trust have backed his ideas and supported us to create and deliver 5 apprentice roles overall.”

Tipunakore’s role was part-funded through Predator Free NZ Trust as part of a nationwide programme to train more animal pest control specialists to support the predator-free vision.

The programme involved on-the-job training as well as study through the Te Kura Matatini –  Western Institute of Technology (WITT) and training provider Feats Pae Tawhiti.