Penny Tuhoro

Civil and Mining Graduate

Programme attended: Civil Plant Operation (Level 3)

Penny Tuhoro is thriving in an industry which has traditionally been a male domain.

The 49-year-old Auckland civil infrastructure machine operator was a stay-at home mum, working part time as a truck driver, when a chance session on social media introduced her to Tai Poutini Polytechnic’s Digger School.

“I had been looking at advancing my career. I saw a post from Tai Poutini on Facebook and thought what they had to offer looked really interesting so decided to apply and managed to get in.”

Penny instantly connected with the course.

“It was really exciting, there was a lot theory to begin with, foundational stuff you need for the industry like health and safety.”

“The hands-on work was obviously the highlight, everyone loved getting on the machines.”

Penny says the tutors are all ex-industry, and knew what was needed to get them job-ready before they graduate.

“I took in everything. It helped that the tutors knew their stuff and had the patience to teach us. They are all from the industry so knew first-hand what it was like. We were guided through step by step.”

As an older female Penny initially found it a challenge getting into the industry, and credits Tai Poutini’s support for helping her get a good job.

“The tutors helped a lot, they put the feelers out there and gave us leads. It was great to have that ongoing support and help.”

After the course Penny signed up with Auckland civil works firm Dempsey Wood Civil Limited as part of the traffic management team, but had aspirations to join the earthworks department.

“Not long after I joined, they needed a temporary compact operator. That was my chance. A week later they said they wanted me to stay in the earthworks team indefinitely.”

“Without the training I received at Digger School, there’s no way I would have ended up in my dream role operating machines in civil infrastructure. The fact they could trust I had the foundational knowledge and skills to get the job done is a big testament to the reputation of Tai Poutini Polytechnic’s Digger School.”

Penny is loving being part of the Dempsey Wood Civil team. The company continues to expand rapidly, almost doubling in size to 400 permanent staff since Penny came on board.

“For anyone out there thinking of getting into the industry, Tai Poutini is your ticket in, it’s a really great school and is why I’m now working my dream job.”