Wed 5 Apr 2017

Iwi applaud campus opening

The Polytech had  to move from its Union St home as one of the more unlikely victims of last year’s Kaikoura earthquake.

It emerged the building they had used for a matter of months was not up to standard and a new base had to be found.

The office at number 40a, just down the road, fitted the bill and a powhiri was held there on Tuesday.

Kaumatua Sandy Parata, speaking for Ngati Ruanui and Ngaruahine, said he was “so grateful” WITT had reinvested in a campus for people in Hawera “and for what you are doing for our young people.”

“It has always been the dream of our kaumatua to have a university in Hawera and I am happy to be able to say a whare wananga is here,” he said.

Sandy Parata noted with some humour that he also blessed the original Union St campus.

“I call this phase two.”

To the students present he said: “thanks for being brave, I’m so proud. The iwi are happy.”

Earlier Campus Manager Peter Lang spoke of the initial concerns when it was realised the first campus building could not be  used any more – and then the waves of community support which followed and enabled WITT to bring its students to a new base, and how WITT managers had smoothed the process..

The South Taranaki District Council and Fonterra were singled out for particular praise.

South Taranaki’s deputy mayor Phil Nixon said the progression from a “Shaky Isles” situation to a new campus was a fantastic story. He said it was great to hear the warm words spoken about the district’s business community, the district council and Fonterra.

“Having the Connector bus service from here to New Plymouth for WITT students is brilliant, but we need these facilities and the council was pleased to help you,’’ he said.

Recently appointed WITT chief financial officer Dion Maaka said there were clear opportunities for greater communication between WITT and iwi in South Taranaki to benefit students, and he looked forward to seeing plans put in place.

More than 50 students attend courses at the WITT campus in Hawera.

Caption: Kaumatua Sandy Parata speaks at the Hawera campus powhiri.