Siope scales the heights with a Scaffolding Career

When former Fraser High student Siope left school a year or so ago, he had no bank account, no car, no job and no idea what he wanted to do.

Now, with support from Kaute Pasifika and Hamilton-based Industrial Site Services, he has all of those things, paid cash for his first car and has even landed himself a lucrative Scaffolding Apprenticeship.

“It’s a real thrill to be making your own way in life. It was hard work to start with – it’s still hard work – but one of the greatest things about working hard and overcoming challenges is it makes you feel really good about yourself. It gives you a strong mindset and discipline and that’s what it’s given me.”

ISS specialises in height access services, including scaffolding, rigging, industrial rope access, wind turbine erection and maintenance, engineering and mechanical, confined space work, and more.

The FutureFuture® Team popped in to see Siope at ISS to find out more about his work and his new lease on life…

Siope Kalonihea
Apprentice Scaffolder

“I’m really looking forward to welcoming the new cadets so I can encourage them. I know what it’s like when you’re first starting out so I will be able to share with them and help them.”

A Chat with Siope about his role

Siope Kalonihea
Apprentice Scaffolder
Working towards NZ Certificate in Scaffolding (Trade) Level 4
Former Fraser High School student

How did you first get into work?

After school I didn’t really have a job lined up, so I did a carpentry apprenticeship at Wintec for a year. Then I connected with Kaute Pasifika, who help students look for jobs and get their driver’s license, that sort of thing. At that point, I didn’t have my own bank account or anything so they helped me get all set up.

They also helped find me the job at ISS, where I started out on a three-month Cadetship. Throughout those three months you learn all the basics of scaffolding, which I hadn’t really heard about before. I’d seen it around but I didn’t know much about it until I got this job.

After I got my license I’d saved enough money to buy my first car. I paid cash and that was such a great feeling. One of the greatest things about working hard and overcoming challenges is it makes you feel really good about yourself. It gives you a strong mindset and discipline.

There were 25 people on the cadetship and three of us made it all the way through and were offered an apprenticeship. It’s great, because we’ve ended up being good friends.

What does a day at work look like for you?

Depending on the job, everyone arrives at the yard at about 7am and gets their stuff prepared to go out to a job. If it’s a bigger job we might have been preparing in the days before, and we might start earlier if we need to travel.

Then we get into the work trucks and travel to the job.

Our Leading Hand will assign us different jobs to do for the day. We could be on an industrial site or a residential site, but I’ve mostly worked on factories.

What are some challenges you face at work?

The job is pretty physical so you can be tired at the end of the day. It’s made me a lot fitter for my sport. I play rugby league for the Hornets. So it helps keep me fit! I also still go to the gym after work.

I’m actually terrified of heights, but overcoming that is a good experience. The more you do it the more comfortable you get. The feeling of the thrill makes it fun.

What do you wish you had known before you left school?

I wish my mindset had been a bit better then. Back then I would say something but not complete it, but now I’ve learned it’s better to show it than to speak it. I’d say actually listen to advice when you’re young. If you don’t know what you want to do it’s important to just give something a try and see if you like it. If you don’t like something, don’t give up straight away either because it might start to grow on you. I wasn’t that keen here to start with because it was hard, but now I’ve seen the rewards of my hard work it’s much better. I feel a lot fitter and I am paid well. I love coming to work and seeing if I can do better than the day before.

What do you enjoy about this job?

I’m really enjoying the big jobs because it keeps us busy and is more fun. We also get to travel around a bit, which is good because I’m normally the sort of person who stays at home. We also get paid well, and that increases quite quickly. Most of all, I like it that I have friends here and we all support each other.

I’m really looking forward to welcoming the new cadets so I can encourage them. I know what it’s like when you’re first starting out so I will be able to share with them and help them.

Another thing I really like is the company’s Kaupapa. Living out the Kaupapa has really helped me at work and in my every day life.

What is the ISS kaupapa?

Trust – deliver on your word
Team – stronger, safer, together
Growth – people, clients, company
Responsibility – we, us, together
Innovation – smarter problem solvers
Hard work – doing the mahi
Customers – nothing without them
Ethics – genuine, honest, aroha

What does a scaffolder do exactly?

“We construct and dismantle temporary metal scaffolding on building sites. We might set up scaffolding around a structure or construction site, or even on something that’s being demolished.”

On the job, scaffolders do things like:

  • Check for hazards on site
  • Calculate loads
  • Design a scaffold for the site
  • Load and unload scaffolding from trucks
  • Check and maintain equipment
  • Erect scaffolding
  • Make repairs

Some recent jobs Siope’s worked on include:

  • FMG Stadium
  • Huntly Power Station
  • Seddon Park lighting tower upgrade
  • Sound Splash Music Festival
  • Taupo by-pass

A good scaffolder needs to be:

  • Safety conscious
  • A good listener who can follow instructions
  • Fit and agile
  • Keen to work hard
  • Comfortable working at heights
  • Responsible
  • A good problem solver
  • Accurate, with an eye for detail
  • A good communicator, with an eye for detail
  • Well organised

Tips & Advice

What advice would you give someone else looking at this type of work?

They just need to be keen to work really. From there, as long as you keen turning up, you will learn everything you need to know! It’s a great way to get fit and to set yourself up for a great career.

How do you maintain a good work-life balance?

I go to the gym after work. There are still some days when you feel tired because the job is pretty physical, but ISS support us to make sure we balance things. You do need to know when to rest.

What kind of person do you need to be for this kind of mahi?

You’ve got to be able to get up in the morning, and that’s really hard for me, but you do get used to it. You’ve got to be able to show you’re keen to work. Just turning up is the biggest thing. This job is pretty hard at the start, and you really have to look after yourself physically.

What school subjects are important for this work?

Maths – there’s quite a lot of measurement.
English – you need to be able to communicate well with your team.

About Industrial Site Services

Industrial Site Services Ltd (ISS) was formed in 1991 to answer the call of the industry to supply reliable, professional and innovative solutions to the rigging, scaffolding, engineering and heavy transport sectors.

As a family business, where customer service is paramount, ISS has won multiple awards for projects along with many industry organisation awards for excellence. ISS offers a one-stop-shop for height access services, construction and heavy industry maintenance.

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