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Paris Rose Ternent-James

Have you seen the BCITO/Trade Up advert where a group of apprentices build a house for two kids? (Google if you haven’t.) One of the builders in that - 22-year-old Paris Ternent James – has become a recognisable face around Masterton. People come up to her on the work site and around town and ask, ‘are you the apprentice on the telly?’!

Paris spent the first years of high school at St Mary’s College in Auckland, before moving to Masterton’s Chanel College for Years 11 and 12. Wanting to be a sheep and beef farmer, Paris studied through Taratahi College and Massey University for her Sheep and Beef Level 3 Certificate. She also studied for a Diploma in Agriculture Level 5 before going farming, and then travelling for a while. 

While Paris enjoyed many aspects of working on a sheep and beef farm, she found the job lonely (“It’s a good job, just not for me”), so she started looking around for another physical and rewarding hands-on job. 

Inspired by her Mum, a Design Technology teacher, her grandfather, who made walking sticks for his mates out of oak on his property, and her brother-in-law who’s a builder, Paris enrolled with BCITO and is completing a 3-4 year apprenticeship. 

As well as weekly night classes, regular bookwork and 12-weekly visits from her BCITO Training Advisor, Paris works 44 hours a week for a local building firm, learning on the job. “It’s important to find a good employer,” she says, “someone who is passionate about their job and willing to teach.”

Paris switched employers in April and is enjoying working with the team at M.B. Brown Ltd. - all guys except for her. In fact, she is one of only three female BCITO carpentry apprentices in the Wairarapa. 

Paris loves the sense of achievement that comes with building; of standing back and seeing what she’s built at the end of the day. Her work involves building and renovating houses, demolition and commercial work. 

Currently the team is working on a big project, constructing a new ITM store – “It is an awesome site for an apprentice,” Paris says. “There’s lots of repetition so I’m getting lots of practice.”

As well as finding a good employer to learn from and keeping up with your bookwork once you sign up for an apprenticeship, Paris recommends taking some time to consider what aspect of a trade you want to get into and perhaps getting some work experience beforehand. 

“Also, there’s no need to rush into making a decision”, she says. “Apprenticeships aren’t just for young people but if you are interested, do explore your options and get stuck in!”

While Paris is unsure where her career will take her, she says being a qualified builder offers plenty of options. “I don’t know where exactly I want to go – maybe in 10 years’ time I’d like to be a foreman or working towards a career in design.”

As far as what school subjects to take, Paris has found Hard Tech, Graphic Design, PE and Maths the most useful for a career in carpentry.

To find out more about BCITO apprenticeships and getting a trade in construction, head to register at myBCITO.nzto find out what it will take to get work ready. 

By Sara Carbery -