Irrigation New Zealand

IrrigationNZ met with Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry for Māori Development, to learn more about their Cadetship Programme. The programme supports employers to train, develop and mentor Māori employees wanting to move into higher-skilled and better paid roles and therefore contribute to thriving, innovative and resilient businesses.


17 August 2023 Created by Te Puni Kōkiri

Pūniu River Care Cadetship Programme

Employers and businesses with Māori staff can access funding through Te Puni Kōkiri's Cadetships Programme if they commit to providing each cadet with structured mentoring, tailored training and development including an aspect of te ao Māori capability uplift, and relevant work and life skills (and potential qualifications). Last year 91 employers successfully did just that investing in 1,408 cadets to achieve their full potential.

Investment Director Karen McGuinness says Cadetships support the upskilling of existing and new Māori employees of any age, targeting "growth" industries such as IT, technology, and science, as well as the more traditional trades, agricultural and infrastructure sectors.

"It's a real win-win for employers as it offers the opportunity to grow their businesses and employees in what has been a challenging economic landscape," says Karen. "Cadets have taken on engineering apprenticeships, management roles, and post graduate internships in health, resource management, IT, construction and the primary sector."

Te Puni Kōkiri has partnered with large organisations, such as NZ Post and Downer, but the majority (77 percent) are small to medium sized businesses employing up to 49 employees. 72 percent are Māori-owned businesses but all businesses are encouraged to apply for Cadetships' funding, especially those wanting to grow the number of Māori employees and wāhine Māori, and their skill levels.

The  initiative is led by employers, who choose their cadets, and organise the programmes for them which includes structured mentoring and a training programme which increases employees' leadership, management and work-related skills, leading to promotions and higher earnings.

Each Cadetship is worth up to $10,000 (who can be a new or existing Māori employee) and are for the development of employees of any age.

Te Puni Kōkiri market research has identified organisations participating in the Cadetship Programme have been recognised as employers of choice for Māori. By actively supporting the upskilling of existing and new Māori employees this has improved staff retention leading to improvements in overall employee and business performance.

The goals for partnerships between employers and Te Puni Kōkiri through the Cadetship Programme are to build a sustainable, resilient and inclusive Māori economy.

Organisations interested in applying for the Cadetships Programme can contact the local Te Puni Kōkiri office which can assist with applications.

For more information on Te Puni Kōkiri Cadetship Programme including application form visit:

To make contact with your local Te Puni Kōkiri office visit:

To view the frequently asked questions page visit: