Decades of opportunities: Bay of Plenty Regional Council provides practical learning to students


For nearly 30 summers Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council has provided an opportunity for students to gain practical experience in their potential future career as part of its Summer Experience Programme.

It’s a popular programme. With just 32 positions available for 2020/21, there were more than 800 applicants. It’s proved it’s still a popular choice for university students looking for summer employment and wanting their first experience of what their future career could be like.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Director of People and Leadership, Karen Aspey, said the programme has been a success for the past three decades for the regional council.

“It’s been a real win-win situation for both us and the students,” Karen explains. “For the students, they’re getting practical work experience in a field they’re studying and looking at making a career in, giving them a taste of what’s ahead. For us, we’re able to build our leaders and provide a mentor-type role for many of the employees over the 12 weeks, building relationships which often last well beyond the summer and frequently end up in full-time employment with us once their studies are finished.”

She says the Regional Council is also able to gain valuable insight into what’s currently being taught in the country’s tertiary institutes, letting staff check that how they’re working is reflective of current trends.

One such success story is Te Wakaunua Te Kurapa. He spent the summer of 2017-18 working for the regional council with what he describes as ‘one of the best jobs on offer’.

“I was employed to travel around the Rotorua Lakes all summer, chatting to lake users and promoting awareness of the work the regional council was doing to help stop the spread of pest plants, and aquatic pests in the lakes, and letting them know what they could do to help stop their spread.”

He’d been studying towards a Bachelor of Environmental Planning at the time, and the experience gave him the opportunity to look at different careers within the Regional Council. This included building relationships with those in the Consents team, eventually leading to his current employment as a Consents Planner.

“The experience I gained that summer, along with the insight I gathered into the work the regional council does, helped reassure me that I’d made the correct decision with my studies and where I wanted to head with my future career.”

This year’s Summer Experience Programme intake is made up of 32 people, who’ll be working across the region in a number of roles between November and February. 

Find out more about the programme, here.