Ko wai. What’s in a name?

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Over WITT’s 50-year history, the tertiary institute has been known by a series of names that have evolved over time to better reflect both the institute’s purpose and its learners.

Built on the back of the concept of technical colleges, WITT was first known as Taranaki Polytechnic when it launched in 1972.  

In the seventies under the leadership of Errol Jaquiery the question was asked about a Māori name for the Taranaki Polytechnic. At that time ‘kuratini’ was commonly used by many polytechnics across Aotearoa.  Māori language advocate Dr Huirangi Waikerepuru did not believe this was the right word because Kuratini means many schools. Instead, he suggested matatini to represent the many facets or faculties of learning within the Taranaki Polytechnic.

Therefore, the name Te Kura o ngā Matatini o Taranaki was born, one kura many faculties. Over time this has been shortened to Te Kura Matatini o Taranaki. In 2001, Taranaki Polytechnic was renamed “Western Institute of Technology” which was quickly shortened to WITT.

In the closing chapter of the story of WITT’s name, next Tuesday WITT becomes Te Pūkenga, the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology.

 “Names enable people to connect to a bigger kaupapa.  From Taranaki Polytechnic, Te Kura Matatini o Taranaki, WITT and now Te Pūkenga our purpose of supporting ākonga to gain knowledge and master skills has not unchanged and at our 50th, this is a real honour" says WITT Te Pūkenga Deputy Chief Executive and Kaiārahi Te Kāhui Matanui Allie Hemara-Wahanui.

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