Thu 25 Oct 2018

Plaudits for WITT chief

WITT has paid tribute to outgoing chief executive Barbara George by presenting her with a korowai originally given to the polytech to be handed down from one chief executive to the next.

Barbara, who has completed her five-year term at the WITT helm, is heading to Christchurch where she will be the chief executive of The Court Theatre in Christchurch.

The korowai was originally made for former WITT ahorangi (professor) Huirangi Waikerepuru, who in turn left it with WITT when he retired.  He was in the news in July this year as one of five recipients of Te Toi ō Ngā Rangi Lifetime Achievement Awards.

The korowai presented this week is a kahukura - a cloak coloured with red ochre and is highly regarded.

WITT kaiārahi Ken Taiapa said the decision to give the korowai to Barbara George to keep was an acknowledgement of her contribution to the polytech.

Tribute flowed this week at a function to mark Barbara George’s departure from WITT.

Lyal French-Wright, who will be acting chief executive while a permanent replacement is found, told the farewell gathering that the WITT post Barbara George took on had required a leader of courage, fortitude and dedication.

It had not been smooth sailing, there had been setbacks and damage.

But, he said, she could look back with satisfaction.  WITT had shown itself to be a viable polytech, it had seen its category restored this year from a 3 to a 2 after a strategy had been set in place.

WITT was well positioned for the future because of her tenure and stewardship - and she had “fought our corner well” representing WITT in Wellington.

WITT chairman Robin Brockie spoke of George’s tenacity and perseverance in ensuring her vision, to maintain delivery of programmes and ensure student success was paramount, was achieved.

He said she leaves WITT in a “good space” and, from his perspective as an accountant, it had strengthened its financial stability at a time when polytechs were under the microscope over their viability.

But ultimately, her legacy was the thousands of students who had studied and succeeded at WITT, he said.

George acknowledged the role had been challenging, but one she had enjoyed throughout. She also paid tribute to staff and former staff for ensuring WITT’s category 2 rating was achieved.

She encouraged the Taranaki community to get behind “The Little Polytech that Could”.

WITT has commenced advertising the position of chief executive.


Pictured: Former chair Mary Bourke (left) Barbara George, acting chief executive Lyal French-Wright and WITT Chairman Robin Brockie, (right) pictured at the farewell at Te Piere, on the WITT campus in New Plymouth.