My executive assistant and I recently had the opportunity to attend and participate in the Start Expo held in Tokoroa, which is in the Waikato region. The event was held over 2 days; 19th - 20th June 2014. It had been organised by a local woman, Tracey Deane, together with a committee referred to as the South Waikato Lifelong Learning Group. The event was held at the South Waikato Sport & Event Centre in Tokoroa and it was the second year this expo had been held since its inception. It appears to be set to be a regular feature for the South Waikato region.
Tracey is actively involved in the South Waikato community, was a mayoral candidate for Tokoroa and is a life coach in the region. She provided the direction necessary to make this event happen. The committee members include representatives from various organisations and interested individuals who want to create lifelong learning opportunities.
It was evident that a considerable amount of effort had gone into the organisaton of this event with more than 50 exhibitors participating. The Start Expo focused on two interrelated areas; Start Careers and Start Living. As such, it was not just catering for schools but also to the adult community. Students from intermediate age from within and around the outskirts of the region were invited and many took advantage of this opportunity.
As I mentioned above, there were more than 50 exhibitors incuding banks, educators, community service providers and various local business groups. Tokoroa is primarily centered around forestry enteprises so it was not surprising to see a focus on engineering as well, not just relating to forestry but also invention and design - really cool.
The "Dream Wall" was part of the Start Living aspect of the expo. It provided the opportunity for punters to reflect, contemplate and dream about their future desires and aspirations. Visitors participated by placing their names to one or more of the depicted desirables.
On one side of the event centre were a variety of community services catering for clients in need of budgeting advice to supporting youth. Toast Masters were there providing the tools necessary to build confidence. Neil Willman from the New Zealand Cheese School was there promoting professional courses in cheese making. It was also interesting discussing with him his plans for offering courses internationally. I wish him well with this exiting endeavour.
James Deane (far right of above picture) is a local artist. His stand attracted many people, old and young alike, with his beautiful korowai (maori weavings), carvings and knowledge. His work is very detailed, some involving several hundred hours of labour. You'll find more of his wonderful work on his Te Mana Toi facebook page here.
On the other side of the event centre, the focus was on educational services and careers. Participants included the NZ Defense Force, members of the farming and forestry sectors, Waikato University and NZ Police just to name a few. In education, the Southern Institute of Technology was of note given its "zero fees" scheme. They offer a range of programmes, both on campus and for distance learning. It is definitely worth checking out. When it comes to small enterprises and going it alone, Viviers beauty made an impression. Amanda Viviers is a young woman with two little ones in tow running her own beauty business in Tokoroa. She has built a client base of over 200 regulars in a short period of time. If you need inspiration to start your own business, Amand's little enterprise is a good place look.
In addition to the displays, there were seminars and speakers covering a variety of topics including writing CVs and making smart career choices by Career NZ. Their website is well worth a look. Overall, the expo had a positively charged atmosphere and was very engaging.
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