Introducing Kiri, your new Apprentice Leader

Kiri Cooper Brick and Block Leader.jpeg

Kiri Cooper of Woods Waetford Bricklayers joins the 2024/2025 BCITO Apprentice Leadership Group. Kiri’s partnership with BCITO is part of the next intake of apprentice leaders in the Brick and Block sector, highlighting BCITO’s commitment to empowering and involving apprentices in shaping their learning experiences. The group, initiated in 2023, is a progressive approach to fostering collaboration and communication at the grassroots level within the construction trades.

Kiri’s path to the trades unfolded with a series of unconventional steps, eventually aligning with what she calls the ‘Goldilocks Principle’. At the age of 18, she was accepted into Auckland’s School of Medicine. However, her journey turned away from the straight and narrow, akin to the blocklaying industry’s insistence on straight lines. Kiri’s unique direction, guided by her metaphorical string line, set the course for a different adventure.

In 2020, Kiri began her journey with Woods Waetford Bricklayers. She highlighted the ethos of the owner and employer, Trevor, who believes that to appreciate the craft truly, everyone must understand, respect, learn, and value every component. This philosophy played a crucial role in solidifying Kiri’s decision and career choice, starting initially as a labourer, before becoming a skilled Brickie.

Before starting her apprenticeship, Kiri spent 12 months gaining on-site experience, laying the foundation for her journey that officially began in April 2021. In September 2023, Kiri reached significant milestones: qualifying in her trade and becoming the first woman to win the Firth Apprentice of the Year Silver Trowel award. This accomplishment fills her with pride, reflecting the dedication and effort she invested in her apprenticeship and work. Presently, she has embraced the role of supervising and mentoring her sister in the same trade, demonstrating her unwavering commitment and expertise.

Kiri's passion for her apprenticeship fuels her goal to help others embark on a similar rewarding journey. A strong advocate for diversity, she envisions more wāhine enjoying the full spectrum of opportunities that the Brick and Blocklaying sector has to offer. Kiri aims to change perceptions and pave the way for a more inclusive and diverse future in the industry.

Kiri joins Corbin Ellis of S Thelning Christchurch, the first brick and block laying leader, as the second voice for apprentices in the Brick and Block sector. They're part of a dynamic cohort of 30 apprentice leaders, which includes 15 new additions, featuring two representatives from each BCITO-mandated trade.

The structure of the programme, with a term of 24 months and a new cohort recruited every 12 months, ensures a continuous influx of fresh perspectives and ideas.

The emphasis on forming authentic partnerships between leaders, employers, industry, and BCITO is crucial for creating a supportive and effective learning environment.

We’re excited to team up with Kiri! Ready to make some awesome changes to support Brick and Blocklaying apprentices.

If you’d like to know more about the apprentice leader programme and how to support it, please contact Verina Jones, Advocate for the Learner Voice