Thirty for 30: Breaking New Ground


“This was all sea here. They’ve reclaimed a lot of the land. The polytechnic was just a big pond, there was nothing here.” – Ihakara Arthur, Ngāti Toa Kaumatua

After funding had been secured by Education Minister Russell Marshall, plans for construction on a former mudflat in Porirua Harbour were put in motion in June of 1985. The six hectare mudflat had been reclaimed by using fill from Housing New Zealand developments, the Todd Motors site and the Elsdon industrial area. Ngāti Toa owned the land and had expressed to the government that it should be used for the building of a community educational institution, pointing out that this would benefit the community as a whole.

Aerial-shot-1960The tapu was lifted from the site in a dawn ceremony by Ngāti Toa kaumātua, including Wāra Katene, Patariki Te Rei, Māui Pomare, and Matua-a-iwi and Harata Solomon. The MP for Kāpiti at the time, Margaret Shields, turned the first sod, telling those in attendance that the ceremony was a momentous occasion and that the college was a hugely important development for the region.

breakinggroundThus, what has been described as one of the fastest construction programmes in New Zealand educational history got underway, though much of the work was carried out in less than ideal conditions. Whitireia builder Wally Clay was involved in the construction and said “we had to work up to our knees in mud sometimes (…) It was a total bog over there.” Fortunately, the original buildings were mostly prefabs and the construction crews were able to get them up fairly quickly despite the mud.

building2While much remained to be done in terms of development around the site, the necessary buildings were completed in time for the first enrolments in February 1986, when Parumoana Community College officially opened its doors.

[Look out for the next ‘Thirty for 30’ instalment on the official opening of the campus in Porirua. Sign up to the blog to receive a notification as soon as it’s posted. You can also read our first instalment here: Thirty for 30: Origins]

Thirty for 30: Origins


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 ‘Thirty 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 stories and memories. 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 our first ‘Thirty for 30’ instalment, we travel back to the early 1980s to look at the origins of Whitireia:


Throughout the 1960s and early ‘70s, the people of Porirua were largely dependent on Todd Motors as a source of employment. However, the plant began to run down in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s and it became apparent that many in the community would need to reskill or upskill through education in order to find more stable work.

While a number of employment-based and tertiary-level courses were offered across the Porirua region, the providers were ill-equipped for the demand in the area and most people had to travel to Wellington City or the Hutt Valley for further education and training.

The Minister of Education at the time, Russell Marshall, said it was “inadequate and unacceptable” that such a substantial Wellington community was “not being served on-site by an own-your-own, do-it-yourself, stand-alone facility.”

A senior tutor from what was then Wellington Polytechnic compiled a case for a new tertiary institution in Porirua, and the report received widespread support. Proponents of the plan included Porirua mayor Whitford Brown, councillors Eric McKenzie and Ned Nathan, New Zealand Nurses’ Association representative Margaret Faulkner, trade unionist Rob Campbell, John Tamahori from the Department of Māori Affairs, former Mana College principal Doug Day, Kāpiti councillor Mac Clunie, Tawa councillor Roy Mitchell, and Ngāti Toa kaumātua.

By May of 1985, Minister Marshall was able to announce to a meeting of Porirua community leaders that a “community college” would open its doors in early 1986. A public meeting was then held, where the make-up of the college council was established. Soon after, Labour Department executive officer Tino Meleisa was elected council chair, the first Pacific Island chair of any tertiary sector council in New Zealand, while Wellington High School principal Turoa Royal, of Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Raukawa descent, was considered “a natural and inspired choice for foundation principal.”

Finally, after widespread consultation and the consent of the local tangata whenua, the new institution was christened Parumoana Community College. Key staff were quickly appointed and planning began immediately on the programmes and courses that would be rolled out.

[Look out for next week’s ‘Thirty for 30’ story on the construction of the campus in Porirua. Sign up to the blog to receive a notification as soon as it’s posted.]

New tertiary education management team welcomed

A pōwhiri was held by Whitireia and Ngāti Toa Rangatira at Takapūwāhia Marae in Porirua yesterday to welcome the newly appointed Whitireia/WelTec executive team.

Whitireia Powhiri 07.jpg

Whitireia/WelTec chief executive Chris Gosling announced the appointments on Tuesday as part of the Students First Partnership between the two tertiary education providers.

“The appointees are a team of talented individuals who collectively have a wealth of experience and expertise and will add value to professional and vocational training in the region,” said Mr Gosling on Tuesday.

“They are all highly regarded in the education sector and have extensive networks across government and industry,” he added.

The establishment of a new team and structure is another significant milestone for the Students First Partnership between Whitireia and WelTec, which aims to provide more choice for students in the Wellington region and train people with the skills and attributes required by employers.

“It’s an exciting time in tertiary education,” said Mr Gosling. “The Greater Wellington economy is growing, with major infrastructure projects underway and more on the horizon. The region needs skilled graduates and we want to do more to work with industry and business to meet their workforce requirements.”


The Directors are:
Dr Leanne Ivil – Director Strategy, Performance & Improvement, Whitireia & WelTec
Dr Ruth Anderson – Director Academic, Whitireia & WelTec
Mark Broadbent – Director People & Capability, Whitireia & WelTec
Mark Johnston – Director Business Development, Whitireia & WelTec
Dr Julia Hennessy – Director Teaching & Learning, WelTec
James Smith – Director Finance & Operations, WelTec
Lawrence Arps – Director Teaching & Learning, Whitireia
Mark Hewitson – Director Finance & Operations, Whitireia

With 16,000 students (8,800 Equivalent Full-time students) having studied with one for the two organisations in 2015 and revenue at almost $124 million for the year, WelTec and Whitireia together comprise one of the largest tertiary vocational education providers in the country.

Whitireia welcomes new students with Orientation Week 2016

Ko te manu e kai ana i te miro, nōna te ngāhere.
Ko te manu e kai ana i te mātauranga, nōna te ao.

The bird that feasts of the miro berry, belongs to the forest.
The bird that draws sustenance from knowledge, belongs to the world.

Our new students are about to embark on their own unique study journey with us. It’s an exciting time and our aim is to support them every step of the way – starting with Orientation Week.

We want to get our students Whitireia-ready so they can hit the ground running from their first day. We offer a number of fun and engaging workshops, activities and events to prepare our new students for study, giving them the required information, knowledge and tools to succeed.

Following official pōwhiri on Monday 15 February at our Porirua, Kāpiti and Wellington campuses, as well as the Whitireia Performance Centre, Orientation Week will kick off with the Whitireia Festival at the Porirua campus. The event is three hours of full-on fun, with local businesses, community groups, healthcare organisations and Whitireia Student Support Services on-hand. Students will be able to take a campus tour, enjoy great food, prizes, giveaways, music and lots more.

Over the rest of the week, a series of workshops, activities and events will be held across all of our campuses to inform, inspire and invigorate our newbies.

Below is a link to our Orientation Booklet, which has all the information students need to know. Inside are tips on what to expect, and information on the workshops, activities and events.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all past, present and prospective students!

We officially reopened last Monday and there is already a real buzz in the air. 2016 promises to be a great year for the Whitireia family – students, staff and stakeholders alike – with a number of exciting changes and initiatives afoot.

One thing that won’t change, however, is our commitment to providing quality tertiary education to our communities. This year marks the 30th birthday of Whitireia and, having gone from strength to strength every year, we believe 2016 will be our best yet. Throughout the year, students can expect more of the fantastic teaching, support services and fun events for which Whitireia is famous.

Enrolments are still open but places are limited, so contact us today if you are interested in studying in an exciting, dynamic, friendly and supportive environment. Study options are available across all of our campuses in Auckland, Kāpiti, Porirua and Wellington City.

See you soon!

Whitireia Orientation 2015 45

Whitireia music programme helps student break into industry

Music student Sam Notman is about to embark on a summer tour with Thomas Oliver, and has credited the Whitireia programme with helping him jump-start his career in the industry.


Sam enrolled in the Certificate in Rock, Jazz and Commercial Music in 2012 after a friend recommended the course, and has just finished the third and final year of a Bachelor of Applied Arts (Music)​. The drummer from Taranaki said the programme had allowed him to improve considerably as a musician and to develop industry-relevant skills.

“I decided to do the certificate course instead of my last year of high school as I knew I wanted to become a professional musician and felt that would prepare me better for the degree.”

Sam said the Bachelor of Applied Arts (Music) was a natural progression from the certificate and that it had further equipped him with the tools necessary to be successful in the industry.

“The exposure to a range of quality tutors has helped me become a much more technical and well-rounded musician,” Sam said.

During his end-of-year assessment in 2014, Sam performed some original material in front of Wellington musician Thomas Oliver, who is often brought in by Whitireia as a guest lecturer and assessor. Oliver was obviously impressed and asked Sam if he would contribute to his forthcoming album and play on a nationwide tour this summer in support of it.

“It’s really exciting to be working with Thomas,” said Sam. “I’m a fan of his music and we’ll be playing some big gigs. Without the introduction through Whitireia I probably wouldn’t have had this kind of opportunity so early.”

Thomas Oliver’s latest single – ‘If I Move to Mars’, which features Sam on drums, is currently storming the New Zealand charts.

Journalism students participate in disaster reporting simulation


A reality check hit the Whitireia Diploma in Journalism students last week.

It was heads down and keyboards and mics at the ready as the student journos got a taste of what it’s like when the big story breaks.

They were taking part in a major civil defence exercise. It was a win-win situation at the end of the day. The students got a high pressure realistic reporting experience and the civil defence people learned what it’s like to cope with the constant pressure applied by journalists hungry for the lead story.

The scenario? A magnitude 7 earthquake in Hawkes Bay with loss of life, collapsed buildings, looting and a cruise ship stranded in the port with 2,330 passengers on board. Yes tempers frayed. Yes things went wrong. Chaos reigned at times. Success was sweet and deadlines relentless.

Ultimately ‘learning happened!’ And that’s what we are all about.