Te Kaihanga is the Maori word for builder or creator, physical or otherwise.

Between the late 1960s and the 1990s, thousands of Maori teenagers came from New Zealand’s North Island to study and work in Christchurch (South Island) under a program run by New Zealand’s now defunct Maori Affairs Department.

These teenagers trained for 1-2 years before entering apprenticeships with local employers, becoming adept in various trades including carpentry, plastering and painting, blocklaying and drainlaying. Many of them worked together informally over the years.

In 2012 a group of these Maori tradespeople joined together to form Te Kaihanga cooperative.

“The journey of TK Build’s members underlies our future aspirations,” says Barry Baker, chairman of Te Kaihanga Cooperative. “Co-operation has existed in an informal way between the members for more than 20 years and this provides the glue for our foundations.”

Te Kaihanaga Cooperative is New Zealand’s first Maori trade cooperative, and was set up to provide high quality trade and construction services, necessary for rebuilding people’s homes following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 (over 11,000 since Sept 2010).

TK Build (trade name) provides a platform for the members to source opportunities, work together, pool resources, negotiate trade discounts plus develop other activities and services that the members decide upon, which will support both the Cooperative and its members’ trade businesses to flourish.

Right now, Te Kaihanga Cooperative is targeting the residential rebuild sector, particularly the hard-hit Eastern suburbs. Rebuilding homes fits with the members’ aspirations, and with over 400,000 residential insurance claims in the Canterbury region, the Cooperative sees a 10 year development period.

The Cooperative is also working with local (i.e. CPIT & Ngai Tahu’s initiative He Toki Ki Te Rika) and other North Island iwi Groups providing trade training to Maori, and hopes to commence employing the new generation of Maori tradespeople in 2013. TK Build is not only an apprenticeship or employment option. Young trainees who are committed to the same quality standards and cooperative principles will have the option to join Te Kaihanga Cooperative.

This story is an IYC Yearbook feature: https://ica.coop/en/iycbook