Award winning Gateway student

Posted on 2017-05-22 by CM

Xavi doesn't mind mucking in and getting his hands dirty, an attitude that could see him tending some of the most famous gardens in the world. For just over a year, the 19-year-old has been an important member of the Fernery and Display Houses team at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth. He is in charge of the lower houses of the world class attraction, caring for the plants and creating and developing the displays. While the flowers and plants are a colourful display of tranquility and perfection, behind the scenes Xavi worked tirelessly and tenaciously to achieve his goals. “I always wanted to get a trade and get out and get a job. My strongest subjects were horticulture and woodwork so I wanted to do something in one of those fields,” Xavi says.

With that in mind, Xavi entered the Gateway programme at Spotswood College in year 12 and had two placements arranged, every Wednesday heading off to the fernery for some hands on gardening experience and every Friday picking up a hammer and trying his hand at building with Pepper Construction. “Building was a good eye opener and I stuck at it, but I decided it wasn't for me and I concentrated on horticulture. I really enjoyed learning about plants and the garden work and it was rewarding doing it,” he says. Xavi's determination and never give up attitude at his Gateway placements were noticed by his 'employers' and he was awarded Spotswood College's Gateway Award in 2014 for the best overall performance. With his future career decided, Xavi got stuck in doing odd jobs around school, arranging gardening, lawn mowing and tree trimming jobs for after school and weekends and going above and beyond the Gateway programme by volunteering at the fernery during school holidays. Again his dedication and passion were rewarded, he became the recipient of the school's Anne Russell Entrepreneur of the Year award.

In year 13, Xavi headed off to Pukekura Park for two Gateway placements each week, on Wednesdays in the fernery and on Fridays as a member of the park crew doing general gardening work around the park. At the end of the year, he worked at the fernery during the Christmas holidays and when a job came up he applied and, not surprisingly, was successful. “If it wasn't for Gateway I probably would never have got the job. It gave me the work placement and gave me a taste of what the job was all about” Xavi says. “You also have to take your opportunities and work hard and put the effort in to show you are keen.” Now boasting a National Certificate in Horticulture (level four), Xavi plans to build his knowledge and experience further at Pukekura Park before one day going overseas. “I'd love to have a working holiday and spend some time at the likes of Kew Gardens in London or Longwood Gardens in the United States. Horticulture is really flexible so there are a lot of options,” Xavi says.



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