Getting on the Fast Track with the Port Employment Precinct – a case study

Getting on the Fast Track with the Port Employment Precinct – a case study

Simon Peeti and Mau Pakai completed the Fast Track pilot Programme earlier this year. They share their experiences, highlighting the impact it has had on them, and the opportunities it has provided for their career pathways.

When Simon Peeti heard about Te Pūwaha: the Whanganui Port revitalisation project, he knew he wanted to be involved.

Moving back to Whanganui after working on the Harapaki Wind Farm in Hawkes Bay, he attended the wharf rebuild tender presentation earlier this year to learn more about the project and make connections. And make connections he did, bumping into Port Employment Precinct (PEP) business pathways activator, Seletar Taputoro.

Seletar invited him to attend the port walkthrough, so Simon came down, picking up his brother-in-law Mau Pakai along the way.

That chance meeting led to both Simon and Mau being invited to attend the Port Employment Precinct’s pilot Fast Track Programme in March this year. Fast Track is an accelerated programme, giving participants a kick start in their career, providing them with a range of skills and experience from driving a forklift, to using chemicals safely at work and learning how to carry out risk assessments.  

“When I came into this I was keen to upskill and ultimately source employment on the port project,” says Simon.

“The course has given me a renewed purpose and drive, everyone has embraced us and in turn, we have embraced the process.”

The Fast Track Programme is full time, over a period of four weeks, and Simon feels like it was tailor made for him. He has enjoyed every facet of it.

“I gained so much from the networking aspect, we had so many opportunities to meet people in the industry who could open doorways and provide support.”

“I also loved achieving the units and certifications. Seletar and Kristine at the PEP, Ron and Angela at 100% SWEET have been so supportive. Since completing the programme they have connected us with Graham Civil Construction based in Feilding, where Mau and I are both sitting our Level 2 Infrastructure certificates.”

Prior to the Fast Track Programme, Mau was taking care of his grandchildren, so getting back into training and the workplace has been a considerable change for him.

“While at times we felt like the old guys on the course, it’s never too late to learn new things,” he says.

“I really enjoyed it and am happy where I am at the moment, the programme has presented me with many more choices.”

Both Simon and Mau would recommend the Fast Track Programme to anyone looking to make a change in their career, particularly if they are interested in civil infrastructure.

“Perhaps the biggest positive from this is what we are doing has been inspiring for the next generation,” says Mau.

“Our nieces and nephews can see our energy and focus and that there are options for them to pursue in their careers, they just have to put in the mahi to get there.”

The next edition of the Fast Track Programme will commence in the first week of August and will run for a period of four weeks. The programme is managed by the PEP on behalf of the Whanganui District Employment Training Trust (WDETT).

In 2020, WDETT secured a $1.5 million grant from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), administered by Kānoa – Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit, contributing to resolving skill and labour gaps in the region. The funding was provided through Te Ara Mahi, a programme which aims to address long-term barriers to employment and provide pathways to education and skills training.  

For more information on the next Fast Track Programme, please contact Te Kopae Filo on 021 582 890,, or Seletar Taputoro on 021 754 536,

Simon Peeti (fourth from left), and Mau Pakai (far right) with the rest of the Fast Track #1 participants, and their tutor.