Celebrating 50 years

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The year is 1972, National Party’s long tenure in government has just come to an end, bell-bottomed pants are setting the fashion trends and Don Mclean’s ‘American Pie’ is topping the music charts. You turn up to Taranaki Polytechnic located on Liardet Street, you fill out your paper application and enrol in a ‘A Senior Business course for girls training to be shorthanded typists and office secretaries.’ 

Leap to 2022. The floppy disk has become the international ‘save’ symbol in the corner of digital applications, the facemask is the latest fashion statement and ‘google’ has become a verb. You turn up to WITT located on 20 Bell Street, hop on a computer and enrol in the New Zealand Diploma in Architectural Technology (Level 6).

Our history has been dotted with change over the last 50 years. Changes in regional workforce demands, expectations and needs, changes to acts in parliament and rules and regulations. But one thing has remained constant, WITT, Taranaki’s local tertiary provider feeding graduates back out into the region and upskilling the workforce.

WITT, formerly known as Taranaki Polytechnic, opened its doors on  1 February 1972 and became the 13th technical institute in New Zealand. In 1972 Taranaki Polytechnic only offered around 10 programmes including common trades, technician and professional courses and one of the first full-time courses at Taranaki Polytechnic was dairy farming.

At the time the Dairy Farming course was the only one of its type leading industry placement training. What made this course so unique was that every student had to work on a farm as part of the course. Now 50 years on we offer over 65 courses, including three Bachelor Degree programmes and a Postgraduate Diploma, and industry placements and practical based learning is at the heart of how we teach.

From the start, WITT has taken its lead from the region and its people. From offering placement-based dairy farming courses in the seventies to working with industry and training people to work in renewable energy today.

For 50 years we have been the educators, the supporters, the teachers and the friends.

For us at WITT it’s not about the institute or the buildings -  it’s the people. We know tertiary education makes a difference to individuals, whanau and community. For some, it is their first introduction to a particular career that creates momentum and motivation, it engages them in turn to make a difference in our community. For others they are upskilling and adding value at their workplace and in their whānau.

While our history could be marked by facilities upgrades, new campuses, or new programmes. Whether it is 1972 or 2022, the stories of our learners and our graduates shape our foundations.

Kia Māia – Be your Best.

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