Woman in the trades

Published date01 December 2021
Publication titleWest Coast Messenger, The
"I had mostly been working in administrative roles since leaving school. Back then, I didn't know what I wanted to do so my parents (Glen Morgan and Chris Lewaqai) supported my decision to leave school early and not to pursue university studies," Kyra said.

She had spent quite a lot of time working with children in her various jobs so she even surprised herself to end up in building.

"Once I saw that Instagram post, I messaged the woman to ask her advice about being a female builder in the industry. She fully recommended it but suggested I do some work experience before making any major decisions."

That was before lockdown last year. Kyra had already been flatting next to a building site and had been intrigued to return home each night to monitor the house.

"The visual progress was amazing -- you would actually be able to see what you were achieving! Imagine going home at the end of the day and not having to go to the gym! I didn't talk about to anyone - there were no woman in the trades that I knew," Kyra said.

"I loved my job but there wasn't always anything to show for it at the end of the day and I wasn't very active in it."

Kyra decided to follow the Queenstown builder's advice. She e-mailed several Westport builders and asked if they would consider taking her on for work experience. She worked four days a week and was happy to commit every Wednesday to working for free for the experience.

Buller Builders Shawn Weir and Clint Harvey, with the local G J Gardner franchise, agreed. By June, just after lockdown, Kyra was under way.

"I found it very challenging, and I still do. I'd been going to the gym and I thought that would have prepared me for the physical challenges but I was wrong! It is a completely different sort of fitness. I could barely life a sheet of gib when I started and now it is less of a struggle physically but the boys I work with might disagree!" After about six months, Buller Builders wanted to know her plans so after much deliberating, Kyra decided to accept their offer of a building apprenticeship.

"I was very sad to leave Homebuilders as it had been my 'home' for about six years. They had given me two lots of leave to travel overseas. Not all employers would have done that."

Kyra had also ventured to the United States and worked for Camp America in Pennsylvania in 2018, returning for another summer stint in 2019.

However, at the end of January this year, she took the leap of faith and entered the building industry full-time.


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