Skip to main content

Ara event for new and seasoned barbers creates a buzz

16 November, 2022

Quiet chatter, electric clippers, and a few nerves intermingled at a new event bringing together experienced barbers, current students, and those keen to train.

Whaipānga fills the Ara barbering space with buzz

Whaipānga barbering event, held at Ara Institute of Canterbury-Te Pūkenga’s City Campus, was a chance for people interested in the profession to “come in and experience what it’s like day-to-day for barbers and a chance for them, barbers, to give back to community, offload their practical skills, and recruit talent,” said Tia Hunt, Ara’s Team Leader, Engagement Services.

Phoebe Wilson, nearing the end of her year-long barbering course, was lucky enough to find a working barber in her chair. “At first I was pretty nervous,” she said as she perfected her client’s mullet. “But then I felt fine cos he was helping me out with a technique called skimming – he passed on tricks and different ways to hold the comb.”

Phoebe Wilson was nervous to have experienced barber Kalani Hepi in her chair

“She’s got it covered all right,” said experienced barber Kalani Hepi as he smiled at her in the mirror. “Looks great, ‘eh?”

At the other end of the room Luke Koia from Mo Town Barbers helped Ara student Emme Carroll with her fading, a way of tapering the hair against the skin. He explained his own technique and why he does it that way, while Emme asked questions and tried it out herself. Meanwhile, the young male client seemed to enjoy all the attention going on at the back of his neck.

Many of the attendees were from a Māori and Pacific background. Hunt says these groups are “currently dominating the industry with a lot of barbering initiatives and businesses being Māori- and Pacific-owned. Working in the sector makes for a very sustainable source of income because hair, after all, almost always grows back!”

Hunt said this event gives Ara students an opportunity to showcase their barbering skills to people already established in the industry, while also showing prospective students what barbering training might be like. “For students, it’s a great networking opportunity and helps a lot with their personal development in the trade.”

Emme Carroll gets fading tips from Luke Koia from Mo Town Barbers

Barbers Hepi and Koia both acknowledged their profession can have positive impacts on people for more than their appearances.

“We help create a neutral space when they sit in our chairs,” said Koia. “It’s non-threatening and we’re physically close. Many of our clients take the opportunity to unload, talk about their personal lives and struggles too. When they walk out, they feel a lot more confident and have a fresh cut too.”