WDETT is located in the Backhouse Building



Whanganui District Employment Training Trust or WDETT for short are a charitable trust that has been working within our local community for the last 15 years. Using the vehicle called 100% SWEET (100% of Students in Whanganui in Employment, Education or Training) WDETT works with youth or rangatahi through the Work Ready Passport programme to help with their transition into employment.

Consisting solely of volunteers, WDETT members represent local industry, business owners, iwi, education, and local government and deliver a number of programmes based around developing employment skills and capabilities.

meet the team

Angela Beagley - Employment Facilitator -100% Sweet

Angela Beagley

Employment Facilitator -100% Sweet


021 582 890

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Angela Beagley works for WDETT as the Programme Facilitator for the 100% SWEET - Work Ready Passport programme. She is passionate about providing our rangatahi with the tools they need to transition from the familiar surroundings of school into the world of work. Voluntarily supporting our rangatahi as a youth leader for many years, the opportunity to be a part of the 100% SWEET team delivered directly into her mantra; to speak greatness into the lives of our rangatahi.  Through the Work Read Passport, Angela is a much-needed Way finder, where she helps our young people find their way. Her programme develops an understanding of skills & attributes and gives direction for career choices. If learners aren’t heading toward further tertiary study or training, then WRP provides them with a professional CV, the opportunity to practice their interview techniques, and work experience so they can take advantage of any employment opportunities.

Like most rangatahi, Angela started working with no plan and no idea about what she wanted to do. Starting with office & administrative roles, she eventually moved into finance before discovering her passion for education & working with youth. Initially from Auckland Angela & her family settled in Marton, Rangitikei 12 years ago. Since then, they have established many ties in the area, a coffee cart business, with a commitment to their church and community.

Kristine Dickson - Business Training Facilitator - Port Employment Precinct

Kristine Dickson

Business Training Facilitator - Port Employment Precinct


027 342 7006

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Whanganui District Employment Training Trust (WDETT) is pleased to announce the appointment of Port Employment Precinct Business Training Facilitator, Kristine Dickson.

WDETT is one of five partner groups steering Te Pūwaha, and is responsible for governing the Port Employment Precinct (PEP) to facilitate training development and job opportunities associated with the port revitalisation project.

The PEP was established when WDETT secured $1.5 million dollars of funding from Kānoa – Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit to contribute to resolving skill and labour gaps in the region. The funding was provided through Te Ara Mahi, a programme that aims to address long-term barriers to employment and provide pathways to education and skills training.

Born and raised in Whanganui, Kristine was educated at Kiwi Street School, Whanganui Intermediate School, and Whanganui Girls College: “I’m a Whanganui girl through and through.”

Kristine comes to the role with a wealth of local and overseas knowledge. She gained a business degree at Massey University and trained to be a primary school teacher before heading overseas.  She worked at BBC London supporting the studio crews with their training and travel needs, followed by six and a half years working in direct marketing for the British Heart Foundation.

A move to Australia and another couple of years in direct marketing fundraising helped her to secure what she describes as one of her “dream jobs” - a Fundraising Coordinator at Taronga Zoo working on the Asian Elephant rain forest.

A further stint in London coincided with the London transport terrorist bombings of July 2005.  Kristine was on the London Underground that day, trying to get to work through the morning rush hour when chaos broke out: “That day was the big scary day, but in the months afterward there were tube lines that weren’t working because they had been blown up, and you’d have to take the bus instead.  When I first went to England, the IRA were active and there would be a lot of bomb threats, but they always gave the tube lines a warning. But after the Islamist terrorist bombings, the rules changed. It was time to come home.”

Returning to New Zealand, she worked with an advertising agency in Wellington before coming home to  Whanganui. She has worked in the city for 13 years in business management and marketing, in the secondary and tertiary education and training fields.

Now, she is tasked with supporting businesses to lift the capability of employees, by connecting local people with jobs created by the port redevelopment project, and facilitating on-the-job or vocational training.

“Te Ara Mahi is a legacy project. In this context, in means that in an ideal world, what we do now will still be having a positive impact in many years to come. The young rangatahi that we train and put into apprenticeships or encourage and support now, will become supervisors and leaders.  So people are continually moving up.”

“It’s about Whanganui but its really about the port, and about the marine precinct. And it’s really about creating highly-skilled roles for Castlecliff residents. It’s about uplifting Castlecliff. If Castlecliff rises, Whanganui rises.”

Kristine is keen to talk to all businesses in Whanganui but particularly those in the Heads Road and Castlecliff area, about their recruitment and training needs, where the skills gaps are, and what succession plans are in place.  

“The more capable people we have, the more opportunities there are for those people to work in Whanganui as a whole.  We’re aiming to become a city populated with highly-skilled people, which makes us more flexible as a city. We want Whanganui people to be a highly trained population. That’s the end game.”

Kristine’s connection to the port means she is personally invested in the project: “My grandfather used to take my brother and I down to the wharf as children. We would fish for herrings. When I was little, I would put the line down through the cracks in the wharf and he would pull it up and do the messy stuff for me. Then when I was older I could put the line over the side. In those days you used to get a big block of Chesdale cheese that was like a pound of butter. We used to cut if off and that would be our bait, and we would eat as much as we would put on the hooks. So the port has got lovely memories for me.”

To learn more about the Port Employment Precinct, visit www.port.org.nz for contact details and further information.

Ron Armstrong - Employment Broker, 100% SWEET & Mayors Taskforce for Jobs

Ron Armstrong

Employment Broker - 100% SWEET & Mayors Taskforce for Jobs


027 323 9301

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Ron is a long-time “Whanganui person”. He was born in Raetihi and lived at National Park until moving to Whanganui at age nine.

He attended Carlton School, Rutherford Intermediate and Whanganui High School before embarking on a long and successful career with NZ Railways (now KiwiRail). He started in their commercial and transport logistics field, then latterly 28 years with the marketing team, as Regional Sales Executive.  Career highlights include managing the pulp train out of Karioi, establishing a rail link for bagged milk powder between Whanganui city and the industrial hub at Castlecliff, and re-instigating regular log trains in the lower North Island.

He also owned the Four Square store in Springvale for a few years during the 1980s, notably before major supermarkets had arrived in Whanganui. It was a time when the local superette was a community hub; “I owned a Four Square, and I was in marketing with KiwiRail, so you meet businesses and you meet people. I suppose you could say my whole life has been about meeting people.”

Seven years ago he joined Vision Manawatu, now Palmerston North’s Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA). As their transport industry consultant, his focus was freight, transport, warehousing and logistics, ultimately highlighting staffing needs. That work evolved into a role with another arm of CEDA, Talent Central, working with school leavers and the Work Ready portfolio, enabling school leavers to be better ready to transition into the workplace.

Rose Stokes

Rose Stokes

Programme Facilitator - Mayors Taskforce for Jobs


027 588 6699

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A long-time Whanganui local, Rose Stokes is focused on achieving the outcomes of the Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs project (MTFJ).

Rose has worked in sales, retail, radio, the equine industry, agriculture and dairy, with NZ Police, and more. She has previously worked for one of WDETT’s additional services, 100% SWEET, and has had experience with MTFJ through Rangitīkei District Council. Most recently, she has worked with Ministry of Social Development as a Regional Labour Market Advisor, setting up Skills for Industry contracts. Rose is well known in the Whanganui business community.

Using her business knowledge and networking skills to work with agencies and providers, Rose is committed to helping individuals get to where they need to be on their employment journey. 

Sally Ross - Chief Executive, Whanganui District Employment Training Trust (WDETT)

Sally Ross

Chief Executive


021 210 6650

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WDETT’s Chief Executive, Sally Ross brings a wealth of business experience to her role.

Responsible for WDETT’s operational performance and implementing its strategic direction, Sally leads a team of likeminded and passionate individuals focused on making difference to our hapori whanau. As a team WDETT helps prepare our rangatahi for mahi. We develop their understand of skills and attributes and facilitate pathways to employment through work experience or further training. Drawing from 22 years’ experience in banking & finance and over 8 years in the education and training sector; Sally has a firm understanding of the key issues with well-established connections to local industry.

Seletar Taputoro - Business Pathways Activator - Port Employment Precinct

Seletar Taputoro

Business Pathways Activator - Port Employment Precinct


021 754 536

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The Whanganui District Employment Training Trust (WDETT) is pleased to announce the appointment of Port Employment Precinct Business Activator, Seletar Taputoro.

WDETT is one of five partner groups steering Te Pūwaha, and is responsible for governing the Port Employment Precinct (PEP) to facilitate training development and job opportunities associated with the port revitalisation project.

The PEP was established when WDETT secured $1.5 million dollars of funding from Kānoa – Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit to contribute to resolving skill and labour gaps in the region. The funding was provided through Te Ara Mahi, a programme that aims to address long-term barriers to employment and provide pathways to education and skills training.  

Seletar is passionate about education and community. She has held various roles at local schools, including recently working with students at Te Kura o Kokohuia, assisting with their career and study pathways. She also established Whanganui Pākihi Māori and last year held the first Pākihi Māori Summit where businesses, services and stakeholders were able to showcase and connect.

As Business Activator, Seletar’s role tasks her with supporting the Port Employment Precinct work as a conduit between youth, whānau, training providers, tertiary providers, government agencies, employers, and iwi.

“My role is specifically related to the port, and the Castlecliff community. It’s about connecting with employers and determining how we can support with upskilling and retaining their staff and creating room for staff to grow within their organisations.”

“Whanganui is leading the way with Te Pūwaha and ensuring that Tupua te Kawa is embedded in all that we do in relation to the port. It’s amazing as it binds us as people to the awa and the awa to us.”

She says it’s also about rangatahi - the youth of Castlecliff and their families - and being able to bridge the gaps.

“The employers need young people, and they want to train young people. It’s about how to connect those two.”

A big focus is engaging the Castlecliff community with what is happening at Te Pūwaha and the job and training opportunities that are coming.

“We are blessed to work in a space with others to help support our community to build a workforce that can potentially fill those roles and thrive. It’s great for Castlecliff, and it’s great for Whanganui.”

One month into the role, Seletar is relishing her work with like-minded colleagues and their stakeholders.

“We love our community. We’re champions of young people and of our town. And there is true commitment from the businesses out there who want to make a difference. They are passionate about community, and about young people. That’s what gets you excited.”

The physical and spiritual connection that she shares with Whanganui and Te Pūwaha, combined with her personal values makes her a great fit for the role.

“My Dad is Te Atihaunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Tama my Mum is Tamareheroto Ngā Rauru Kitahi, Ngā a Waiariki Ngāti Apa and Ngāti Ruanui. I whakapapa to the awa and the whenua where Te Pūwaha meets which makes this even more special.  I connect through my blood but more than that, it’s my passion. I just want to help people be the best version of themselves.”

To learn more about the Port Employment Precinct, visit www.port.org.nz for contact details and further information.

OUR Board

Hannah Middleton

Whanganui & Partners


027 235 4372

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Hannah Middleton has been an active guest & member of the WDETT board for the last 3-4 years and she currently holds the position of its chair. In her day job Hannah is a Chief Executive and leads the team at the Economic Development Agency for Whanganui, called Whanganui & Partners. Here she has been a driving force behind the organisation since 2018. Hannah is responsible for guiding Whanganui & Partners' strategic direction and supporting the team to achieve at a high level. She has a strong understanding across key sectors in Whanganui and has well established relationships with industry, local and central government agencies, and across the broader Manawatū-Whanganui region. Hannah has a passion for rangatahi pathways & has a background in capability & education. Previously the Strategic Lead Capability at Whanganui & Partners and prior to that, the Youth Development Manager at Sport Taranaki for 7 years, Hannah brings a strong business focus and a strategic perspective to the WDETT board.

Hayden Loader

Loaders Civil Construction


027 577 9573

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Hayden Loader has been a long-term member of the WDETT Board and currently holds the position of deputy chair. Hayden is a joint owner of civil construction company - Loaders Wanganui. He has a keen interest in retaining Whanganui as a safe, vibrant, and prosperous place to bring up his family. As a joint owner in the now 3rd generation family business, Loaders Wanganui is a large local employer, employing around 60 staff, with a preference for hiring local talent and developing people in-house. Hayden has been working for Loaders Wanganui for 17 years, and for the last 12 years he has held the role of General Manager. He believes that through WDETT local businesses have the opportunity to connect with our youth, to give them meaningful jobs and create a pipeline of talent for local employers. His company has a long family history of supporting the Whanganui community and Hayden specifically has a strong desire to continue on with this legacy by adding his solidity and motivation from the Whanganui business sector to any WDETT endeavours.

Jeff King



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Jeff King has been a member of the WDETT Board for the last few years. He is a self-employed business owner working in the education sector. He is one of two founding owners, and they up a digital platform known as MyMahi. In 20145 Jeff and his business partner Wasim started life as NCEA Pal, a mobile app to support young people manage their learning. Both founders were working full time jobs at the time and the business was more of a side project for them. It grew very quickly and was the number one educational app in New Zealand for a number of months. Jeff and Wasim learned a huge amount during this first project but decided there was a bigger problem to solve so pivoted to mentoring and came up with the concept now known as MyMahi.

As part of that journey, MyMahi became a finalist in the 2016 Manawatu Innovate competition. The competition offered a 10-week start-up business programme which focused on development of a business concept right through to executing on that concept. Not having a business background meant Jeff had a lot to learn. He credits the success of MyMahi to this programme and some key mentors along the way. Today MyMahi Ltd has seven full time staff and four part time staff in various parts of the world and has just expanded into Australia. Jeff’s journey of having started a business from scratch, without any relevant experience, is something that continues to be an asset to the WDETT board and its objectives.

Marianne Cavanagh

Whanganui District Council


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Marianne joined the WDETT Board in 2020 and is the General Manager Community and Customer Experience at Whanganui District Council, overseeing the majority of the customer facing services including libraries, museum and galleries, venues and events, customer services along with regulatory and compliance functions such as resource consenting and building.  After completing a Masters of Arts at the University of Otago Marianne worked and travelled throughout the United Kingdom and Europe.  Returning to New Zealand in 2003 Marianne has since worked in the local government sector, both in Wellington and since 2014 in Whanganui.

Alongside her day job, Marianne is Chair of the Whanganui New Zealand Masters Games Trust and is underway with Response and Recovery Leadership training within Civil Defence.  Whilst Dunedin is her hometown, Whanganui is very much home for Marianne, her husband and two daughters. A German Shepherd puppy is the most recent addition to the household meaning there is very little time for anything else.

Martin McAllen

Whanganui High School


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Michael Eden

GDM Retail Systems


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Michael originates from Whanganui attending Rutherford High and Whanganui High School.

Michael founded GDM Group, a specialist manufacturer and exporter of retail systems in 1978. The Group of NZ and Australian Companies remain privately-owned and Michael leads a management team and staff of 60 at its Whanganui Head office and factory. The company also has large manufacturing plants in China.

Executive Member – NZ Retail Interior Association 1997 - 2022

  • Representing the Manufacturing sector of the industry
  • Executive member of the Board since 1997
  • President since 2012 – 2021
  • Treasurer 2012 – 2020
  • Representing industry and running the Awards celebrating the success of the industry design across the retail sector.
  • Instrumental in setting up the Rising Star Youth Award for the Industry which is nationally recognized each year.

Lead Team - Accelerate 25 2016 – 2022

  • Accelerate 25 is the implementation program born from the Regional Growth study completed in 2015.
  • Under this program an Action plan was created by business, iwi, local and central government with the purpose of unlocking the potential within the region to create opportunities through the means provided by enablers, identifying priorities to implement and key agencies to work with.

Whanganui District Employment Training Trust 2010 – 2022

The Trust originated to provide an umbrella for INTRANZ and has grown to support a range of initiatives to support Youth in Whanganui.

Nürburgring 24 hr race 2006, 2007, 2010-2019

  • The most challenging track endurance race in the World
  • Representing New Zealand in Honda Civic TypeR race car – Won Class 2006, 2007
  • NZ/Danish team in BMW 2010 – 2019

Whanganui District Council Holdings 2006 – 2012

  • manage and oversee the Council's commercial assets.
  • advise the Council on new investment opportunities and the strategic management of assets.

Heads Road Industrial Group 2012 – 2021Core member to develop and encourage business growth within the Heads Road Industrial area.

Myles Fothergill

Q-West Boat Builders Ltd


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Nicole Beckham

Tupoho Investments


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Sandra Eden

GDM Retail Systems


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After completing her Degree in Horticulture, Sandra worked in the United Kingdom in the cut flower industry and returned to New Zealand to successfully implement the Quality Assurance Program (NZGAP) and the AsureQuality Organic Standard.

Sandra has operated on numerous Boards in the sector representing flower growers, potato growers and organic exporters.

GDM is a design and manufacturing business which Sandra has held a Directorship since 2005.

Sandra is a founding member of the Whanganui Lean Group since 2009 to assist businesses to operate more efficiently and leverage the knowledge across the business community.

Sandra is a Trustee on the Whanganui District Employment Training Trust and has been actively involved since 2010 contributing to the running of INTRANZ – trade training academy.

When she is not keeping busy at GDM you can find her playing golf, racing her M3 BMW or catching up with friends and family. Internationally, Sandra has travelled extensively, and often as support crew at the Nürburgring 24hr race in Germany and other motor racing events in Italy, England and Belgium.

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