Students step back in time
By Emma Sharplin –
The year 12 technology and woodwork students at Waiuku College are taking a step back in time as they prepare for an incredibly unique project for the community.
Waiuku College is one of 15 schools nationwide that are taking part in the annual BCITO Build-Ability Challenge. This year they will recreate a street replica of the township from 1916 for the local museum.
Teacher, John Robinson, says the project is incredibly exciting.
"We have taken part in the competition over the last few years. We have built a playhouse that we donated to a community group. For the students to be able to pick a project is quite exciting and new."
John placed the word out that the school was looking for a community project to take on, and the local Lions club approached the students with several options.
"One was to help build a deck for the Waiuku Family Support Group, and the other was to help recreate a scene of 1916 Waiuku, before the fire that took place in the town."
The street scene will showcase three businesses from the era, which John says will possibly be the butcher, the barber and the jewellers.
Helen Reardon, Secretary for the Museum, says the project has been on their wishlist for a long time.
"We are so excited to have the college now involved, and thankful that they are making the street scene happen for us. It has been an idea that we have been wanting to get off the ground for a long time, and we are excited to see the end result," says Helen.  
Building of the frames is currently underway, and the students have already visited the museum to view old photographs and to take measurements for where the project will be based.
"It is really cool that we will be recreating a historical view of what the town used to look like for the people of Waiuku," says student, James Sixsmith.
Joe Vulawalu is looking forward to giving something back to the community.
"We are representing the school, and making something for everyone to enjoy. It is also good that we are learning new skills and gaining experience within the building trade."
The competition is aimed to give the students an idea of what it’s like to work in the construction industry. They are also able to earn unit and achievement standards towards their BCATS National Certificates, which gives them a head start on their construction training.
The Build Ability Challenge is also a key part of the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation’s strategy to attract new apprentices and demonstrate the opportunities of a career in the trades. The team all agree that they are hoping to join the building and construction sector once they finish school.
The team has less than 19 weeks to finish their project, and will need the help from the community later in the year when public voting takes place for the favourite project.
To follow their progress, visit
CAPTION: It may not look like much now, but students Te Aroha Kaihau, Jo Vulawalu, James Sixsmith, Roy Furmage, Connor McLeod and teacher John Robinson, are incredibly excited and eager to see the finished result of their Build Ability project.