International Dance Day: Student touring with acclaimed dance company

Whitireia Performing Arts student Nazerene Paea will perform today with New Zealand/Samoa choreographer Lemi Ponifasio’s dance company, MAU, at a UNESCO event in Paris to mark International Dance Day 2016.

Nazerene-combo
Performing Arts student Nazerene Paea is touring with dance company MAU

Nazerene, who is in her third and final year of the Bachelor of Applied Arts (Performing Arts) programme at the Whitireia Performance Centre in Wellington, was selected by Ponifasio himself to join MAU on the group’s current tour of Europe. Whitireia Performing Arts students are expected to develop an extensive knowledge of genres and artistic endeavour in Māori, Samoa, Cook Islands and New Zealand contemporary dance. Performance and international touring are significant parts of the programme, and the experience provides Nazerene with a wonderful opportunity for applied learning. Indeed, this is yet another example of industry engagement and work-integrated learning that gives students at Whitireia a true taste of experiencing life in their chosen industry.

The tour was timed to coincide with the event in Paris, after UNESCO chose Ponifasio to be the official author of this year’s International Dance Day message, putting him in the company of such dance luminaries as Merce Cunningham, William Forsythe, Maurice Bejart, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.

Established in 1982, International Dance Day is promoted by the International Dance Council (CID) and is aimed at attracting attention to the art of dance. The official message for International Dance Day is sent to over 100,000 dance professionals in 200 countries and is translated into dozens of languages.

‘The UNESCO event is also chance to celebrate the amazing work of MAU,’ Nazerene noted prior to leaving. ‘We will be conducting the welcome and will hold a 30-minute performance at the end of the ceremony.’

The company will then head to St. Poelten, Austria, where they will workshop the new work ‘Hine Nui te Po’ and attend performances as guests during the Vienna Festival. From there, they travel to Hannover, Germany, where they will be part of an installation inside Marienburg Castle and perform outdoors at the Herrenhausen Gardens.

lemi_ponifasio
Lemi Ponifasio is the author of this year’s International Dance Day Message

International Dance Day Message 2016:

Karakia

touch the cosmos
the source of our divinity
illuminating
the face of the ancestors
so we can see our children

woven above
beside below
unite all within
our flesh and bones
and memory

the Earth is turning
humans in mass migration
turtles gather in silent preparation
the heart is injured

make dance
a movement of love
a movement of justice
the light of truth

– Lemi Ponifasio

World Book Day

‘World Book Day is an opportunity to recognise the power of books to change our lives for the better, and to support books and those who produce them.’

– Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General

Today, 23 April, is officially World Book Day, so we thought it was the perfect time to highlight the work of an author from Escalator Press, an imprint set up by the Whitireia Creative Writing programme to publish work by new and established writers associated with Whitireia, including Adrienne Jansen, Rudy Castañeda López, Kate Carty, Janet Colson and Helen Waaka.

Waaka, who has a Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing from Whitireia, last year released Waitapu, a collection of 18 short stories that cracks open the image of rural tranquillity to reveal the heartbreak and kindness of everyday life. A review of Waitapu in the Listener said Waaka ‘explores small-town living, and what it means to be Maori, with compassion but without glossing over the negatives. Her characters are recognisably real.’

Late last year, Waaka spoke to Radio New Zealand’s Lynn Freeman about Waitapu. Click here to listen to the interview, or here to read an excerpt from the book.

Blog-image

Local student benefits from Whitireia scholarship

Former Aotea College student Josh Casey is working towards a career in social and community work at Whitireia Community Polytechnic, and has been given a major boost with a secondary school leaver scholarship to help cover his fees.

School Leavers 16

School leaver scholarship recipient Josh Casey (far left) and some of his fellow winners (from L-R): Paula Logologo (ex-Aotea College), Dionesia Hoar (ex-Wairarapa College), Mia Alonso-Green and Salanieta Muatabu (both ex-Wellington Girls’ College)

Whitireia offers ten of these scholarships, each valued at $4,000, to selected secondary schools in the greater Wellington region. Eligible students must be enrolling in their first year of full-time study towards a multi-year diploma or degree programme, and must submit a personal statement outlining their desire and ability to succeed in their chosen field of study, as well as their reasons for applying.

Josh, 18, says he always knew he wanted a career that would give him the opportunity to help people, but wasn’t sure that medicine or nursing were for him. While at college, a personal experience gave him an insight into social work, so when it came time to look at tertiary study choices, the Bachelor of Social Work at Whitireia was an attractive option.

‘Whitireia was the best choice for me,’ says Josh. ‘It offered the best course and the opportunity for applied learning through a number of field placements. Being close to home is also a bonus.

‘The scholarship has made me even more motivated and excited to study here. I’m just extremely grateful to have been chosen as a recipient, and I’m loving every minute of my course,’ he says.

Whitireia Schools Liaison team leader Fiona Wain says the polytechnic is incredibly proud to support passionate young people in their studies.

‘Josh is a great example of the personal qualities we look to foster in our students,’ says Wain, ‘and we know he will do well in his studies.’

Whitireia tutor welcomes World Health Day message

Whitireia Nursing Pacific tutor Dr Lucy Nguma believes the key to addressing soaring rates of diabetes across the world is greater public education, and says it is fantastic that the focus of last week’s World Health Day was on increasing awareness about the disease and its staggering burden and consequences.

Lucy Diabetes

World Health Day is an annual initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has called for serious action in this area. Around 442 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with the disease and that number is expected to double in the next 20 years. In New Zealand, 250,000 people are affected by the condition, and another 40 are diagnosed every day.

Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation, and WHO projects that it will be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030. However, it can be treated effectively with a healthy diet, regular exercise, medication, and regular screening and treatment for complications.

Dr Nguma’s PhD research focussed on health seeking and health-related behaviour for type 2 diabetes, and she says that the condition could be more effectively controlled and managed by increasing access to diagnosis, self-management education and affordable treatment.

She says that these issues are particularly pronounced in low- and middle-income countries, such as her home country of Tanzania, but notes that they also contribute to poor diabetes-related outcomes in some New Zealand communities. She points out that Pasifika people have much higher rates of diabetes, as well as diabetes mortality and complications, compared to the total New Zealand population.

Dr Nguma, who also has a Bachelor of Arts in sociology, an Advanced Diploma in Nursing Education and a Master in Public Health, began teaching on the Whitireia Bachelor of Nursing Pacific​ programme this year, specialising in bioscience and nursing knowledge. She says her diverse background gives her a holistic perspective on health services, and notes that this inclusive approach is vital to the delivery of education on the Nursing Pacific programme.

The programme has been designed specifically for Pacific students, with a particular focus on the health needs of Pacific communities within the New Zealand context. ​​Dr Nguma says her background will also provide these students with a deep understanding of the issues surrounding diabetes in their communities, and provide them with the tools to best deal with these when they are working in the health sector.

From ‘muddy waters’ to ‘effulgent light’

This year, Whitireia celebrates 30 years of leading and illuminating its communities through quality tertiary education.

As part of our celebrations we are rolling out the 30 for 30 series, a collection of 30 stories highlighting many of the key events in the history of Whitireia. From our humble beginnings 30 years ago on the shores of Porirua Harbour, we have grown to become one of New Zealand’s leading polytechnics – the tertiary institution of choice for over 7000 students with an impressive list of achievements.

We hope you enjoy looking back and reflecting with us, and encourage you to share your own memories and comments. We would not be where we are now without the wonderful staff, students and community members who have supported us along the way – thank you all for being part of the journey.

In this instalment, we travel back to 1986-89 to look at the evolution of our name:

30-4-30_04

‘Whitireia – the source of effulgent light – an ancient name, revered since time immemorial (…) That the new polytechnic should carry this name was felt to be appropriate. It would be a source of learning that would radiate outwards and enlighten the community.’

Puoho Katene, Ngāti Toa Kaumātua

During the planning phase, the proposed polytechnic had initially been referred to as Porirua Regional Community College, however, at the final community consultation meeting the name Parumoana was presented to the council. Parumoana was the name used to describe the foreshore upon which the institution would be constructed when the land was reclaimed, and when it officially opened its doors, it was as Parumoana Community College.

Parumoana-Logo

As early as the official opening, though, council chair Tino Meleisea noted the words ‘Community College’ were causing some confusion in the community, with many associating the name with an alternative secondary school. Mr Meleisea suggested that a name change may be necessary, but stated that the word ‘Community’ should be retained as a constant reminder of the institution’s special focus.

Other councillors, staff and the public agreed that ‘College’ had connotations of secondary school. At a council meeting in April, it was resolved to replace the word ‘College’ with ‘Polytechnic’, which it was felt more clearly conveyed the tertiary role, and the name change was soon  approved by the Minister of Education.

However, there was also discontent with the name Parumoana, which translates in a literal sense as ‘muddy waters’. The name was said to be creating considerable embarrassment and loss of mana for students. Before it became Parumoana Community College, Ngāti Toa kaumātua Māui Pomare had suggested the institution take the name Whitireia, meaning the source of effulgent light, and this was again proposed by another kaumātua – Patariki Te Rei – in 1988. It was an ancient name, according to Puoho Katene, with local associations.

‘That the new polytechnic should carry this name was felt to be appropriate. It would be a source of learning that would radiate outwards and enlighten the community. It would be a guide for those who are seeking directions as they steer their course in life.’

Early in 1989, the council recommended to the Associate Minister of Education that the name be changed to Whitireia Community Polytechnic – Te Kura Matatini o Whitireia – and the change came into effect in September of that year. It was widely felt that the new name more accurately reflected the regional nature of the polytechnic and its aspirations– ‘to lead and illuminate our communities through tertiary education.’

Old-logo

Whitireia celebrates student success

This year’s graduation ceremony is officially done and dusted, and the event went down in typically colourful fashion. A crowd of over 2,000 turned out to see around 450 graduates from the Faculties of Arts, Business & IT, Health and Te Wānanga Māori celebrate their success with whānau, friends, peers and academic staff.

Grad16

There were also a number of milestones celebrated at this year’s ceremony, including the 30th birthday of Whitireia, and the graduation of the institution’s first Masters graduate and first Toi Poutama (Māori Arts) graduate. Leutele Grey (pictured below) graduated with a Master of Information Technology, while Moana Hilliard graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Arts (Toi Poutama).

Grad13

The event was only made more vibrant by the numerous haka, karanga, waiata and general acknowledgment received by each graduate as they crossed the stage. This is something that undoubtedly sets the Whitireia graduation ceremony apart. You would be hard-pressed to find a more festive ceremony anywhere in the world; it is an event that truly captures the spirit of Whitireia.

Grad9

Congratulations to all those who graduated on Thursday, we wish you every success.

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe he maunga teitei.
(Seek the treasure you value most dearly; if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain).

Grad11

Thirty for 30: Official Opening

This year, Whitireia celebrates 30 years of leading and illuminating its communities through quality tertiary education.

As part of our celebrations we are rolling out the 30 for 30 series, a collection of 30 stories highlighting many of the key events in the history of Whitireia. From our humble beginnings 30 years ago on the shores of Porirua Harbour, we have grown to become one of New Zealand’s leading polytechnics – the tertiary institution of choice for over 7000 students with an impressive list of achievements.

We hope you enjoy looking back and reflecting with us, and encourage you to share your own memories and comments. We would not be where we are now without the wonderful staff, students and community members who have supported us along the way – thank you all for being part of the journey.

In this instalment, we travel back to early 1986 to look at the official opening of the Porirua campus:

30-4-30_03The first courses to be run at Parumoana Community College began in February of 1986, however, the incredibly short lead-in time meant some of the furniture and equipment only arrived on the same day as the students (and in some cases after classes had started!).

The college council, under the chairmanship of Tino Meleisea, and foundation principal Turoa Royal had worked incredibly hard in a very tight timeframe to ensure the college could start running classes in February, and staff and students were beginning to settle in by the date of the official opening on 15 March 1986.

Mr Royal said at the time that the opening heralded a new development in education in the Porirua basin and Kāpiti Coast, that being greater access to continuing education for the community.

The opening began with Ngāti Toa kaumātua conducting a dawn dedication ceremony and tapu lifting, before a traditional welcome for Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves and the other visiting dignitaries. Sir Paul spoke to the crowd and said that he saw the college as a source of learning, adding that it would bring the community together.Opening1After his speech, the Governor-General unveiled a plaque carved by whakairo tutor Lou Kereopa, which represented the cultural values the college hoped to promote – excellence, endeavour, social concern, training and vocation. A tukutuku panel gifted to the college by Maraeroa Marae was also unveiled.

Following the formalities, guests were taken on a tour of the campus, before a celebration hākari was held and an afternoon of entertainment from Porirua’s various cultural groups got underway.opening2[Look out for the next ‘Thirty for 30’ instalment on the transition of our name from Parumoana Community College to Whitireia Community Polytechnic. Sign up to the blog to receive a notification as soon as it’s posted. You can also read our previous instalment here: Thirty for 30: Breaking New Ground]