Fri 31 May 2019

Greg turns 30

At one time he was a youngster being told to sit down and wait for the teacher.

He was the teacher.

Today work colleagues joke that they should digitalise Greg Banks and inject him directly into the WITT network.

Network engineer Greg was honoured by colleagues on Thursday as he clocked up 30 years’ service to the polytechnic which is now WITT.

IT Manager Tony Harris said Greg has shown devotion to WITT and had made himself a “font of all knowledge”.

Greg regaled colleagues with tales of a teenager who was teaching a Level 1 night class in electrical trades at 17 because the regular tutor had fallen ill.

“I was a Level 3 apprentice teaching apprentices, but I was scoring in the top percentiles in exams.

“Then they asked me to teach another class where all the students were at least 20 years older than me. They were studying for a restricted certificate, electrical - there were plumbers and washing machine and vacuum cleaner repair people.

“When I arrived they saw a young upstart and told me to sit down and wait for the teacher – it took a few week before they accepted me.”

Greg joined the railways, but in the 1980s there was already talk of redundancies and he moved to the Taranaki Polytech as an audio-visual technician.

His arrival in 1989 was duly recorded in the Polytechnic’s first newsletter magazine – Greg still has a mint copy of it.

“We had four computers and a fax machine – and the most common job was replacing the bulbs in overhead projectors… people ended up taking them out and hiding them so no-one else could take them. We had six video TVs and six 16mm movie projectors for movies from the National Film Library – I think we’ve still got one tucked away.

“When marketing did a promotion they would use slides and a Kodak carousel.”

In 1991 WITT had a fledgling IT department and in a performance review Greg was tasked with divorcing himself from it.

No chance.

He became the go-to guy for everything from telephones to cameras – when they were separate items.

“Someone found out I knew a bit about phones, and suddenly I owned them.”

The “telephone man” also had a love of cameras and convinced his neighbour he needed a better one. The neighbour was Chris Hill, who went on to become an award winning photographer.

He will have been one of many whose careers and interests have been influenced by the one-time teenage teacher.

Pictured: The candles outlasted the speeches for Greg Banks’ 30th anniversary at WITT.