Wednesday, 26 February 2020


"Do the mahi, get the treats."

By Jordan Gower


Mercury Bay Area School NCEA Level 2 and 3 students are being given some very unique and exciting opportunities through a programme known as gateway. The programme is all about giving senior students inspiration, focus and even possible career pathways. Students choose an area of interest and spend some of their school time completing generic employment unit standards, upon which they are placed with local businesses or enrolled in practical courses to receive hands-on experience.

Gateway is certainly not just a means to avoid regular school work. There is a process of selection. The students wishing to take part must first go through an interview process with deputy principal, Mike Smith. This is to ensure the student is hard working, self-motivated and prepared to be a good ambassador for MBAS.

The programme is popular among the students and there are a wide variety of options, from building aeroplanes to chef training and plenty in between.

One particular course that has proven to be a success is apiculture (beekeeping). Last Thursday, a group of five beekeeping students were having their final session. The course, in which students from four other schools are also participating, is run by the Pacific Coast Technical Institute (PCTI) and in just two days shy of a year, the students have all finished the course. All that’s left to do is send away some bits and pieces for marking, before they officially qualify as junior beekeepers.

From sitting in on their final tutoring session with Mike and Lyal Gilmour, a tutor from PCTI, it’s safe to say the five boys had a year filled with learning, great experiences and plenty of laughs.

The students were lucky enough to have MBAS teachers in Kuaotunu and Hahei make their land available for the purpose of the course. The students learned about the entire beekeeping process, including hive maintenance and the harvesting of the honey. The two giant buckets of honey sitting proudly on the table were a great indication of their success. A goal to beat for future years, surely.

“The boys actually harvested the most honey out of all five schools that took part in the course,” Mike said, gesturing to the buckets. Then with a sly smile he remarked, “Do the mahi, get the treats, right boys?”

Mike was very enthusiastic when discussing the Gateway programme and the benefits it’s giving to MBAS and the students of the school. This is the first time the school has run an apiculture course and they are already recruiting a second group to give it a go. Perhaps they will manage three buckets of honey…

One of the five students, James Scott is already employed as a beekeeper. Through the Gateway programme James was able to see that finishing Year 13 wasn’t necessary for his future and scored a job beekeeping while completing the apiculture course.

“That’s the great thing about Gateway, it gives these kids another option," Mike said. "You can go out and actually get yourself a full time job, whether you finish school or not and no one’s going to look down on you for it. University doesn’t have to be their only option.


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