Mon 4 Feb 2019

New CE arrives as WITT mourns rangatira

The sudden death yesterday of popular tutor BJ Hetet cast a pall over the powhiri today for new WITT chief executive John Snook.

BJ collapsed during a game of league.

As the welcome mat was rolled out for their new chief, WITT staff were at the same time mourning the death of BJ, who would have played a leading role in the powhiri.

Wharehoka Wano, (Te Kāhui o Taranaki), who led the welcome, told WITT staff BJ had helped arrange the powhiri and it was appropriate to go ahead with it – but he added: "showing emotion is good though".

John Snook was appointed by the WITT council in January and arrives with a deep knowledge of the education landscape. He is a former acting chief executive of the Waiariki Polytech. His partner Leanne also attended today's powhiri.

WITT council chair Robin Brockie said the new chief executive had told him last night that this day should be "all about BJ, not me".

Robin Brockie said WITT had lost a rangatira, a person passionate about education, a superb teacher, an artist and carver who had a huge interest in music and was passionate about sport.

"He has left precious taonga around this region," he added.

An emotional John Snook told staff "we feel your pain and our heartfelt feelings go out to BJ's whanau."

He responded to the welcome from Taranaki iwi by underlining his belief in biculturalism and an "inclusive kaupapa that allows us all to excel and be the best versions of ourselves we can be."

Today's powhiri welcomed a total of four new staff to WITT. John Snook was joined by Ian Wride (Systems Engineer), Joanne Peters (Accounts office) and Charlotte King (Faculty Administrator).


Pictured: John Snook was presented with a korowai by one of BJ Hetet’s close work colleagues, kaitakawaenga Allana Prestney during today’s powhiri.