While the latest statistics show unemployment nationally is falling, Māori unemployment is still twice the number for non-Māori.

The new Employment Minister, Willie Jackson, says getting Māori working again is a top priority.

The ‘Kiwi Can Do’ programme targets upskilling young Māori is a key plank to the strategy.

Shaun Kaurau is one ‘Kiwi Can Do’ graduate who says with all hands in the work is completed.

“It’s opened up a lot of doors for me especially the skill provided here – so now I’m just ready to go forward from here.”

Kairau graduated from the ‘Kiwi Can Do’ painting workshop last year.

He has currently landed a job as a team leader for the new intake and before this, he had no permanent job.

“Stepping up being a role model plus team leader is a big step for me, improving my skills and sharing it with others is absolutely great.”

‘Kiwi Can Do’ has been up and running for four years.

The programme teacher Bryan Swainson-Whaanga says the programme was developed in response to the skills shortages in New Zealand, with a particular focus on the construction sector and 85% of the participants are Māori.

“So what can we offer? We call it dad’s army. Here’s a guy of 71 with 40-50 years of skill. And those skills are evident by my own existence running my own company, living my own life and my own dream, but starting from the same background. Mahia Peninsula, normal school, can’t find a job, move to the city, get going. So ‘Kiwi Can Do’ does exactly that.”

Unemployment stats for Māori are sitting at 9.0% which saw a drop of 2%, the lowest Māori unemployment stats since 2008.

But the new Employment Minister Willie Jackson is on a mission to do more.

“Ko te tino whāinga ki te kati nē tā mātou percentages ki te kore koinā te tino whāinga mō tēnei kāwanatanga.”

Swainson-Whaanga has a message for youth.

“We do need youth. That’s what we need to make it work. Not only for ‘Kiwi Can Do’ but for the construction industry in New Zealand, we are depleted.”

The challenge for rangatahi has been put forward.