Meet the chaplain

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Kaimahi and ākonga at WITT Te Pūkenga are fortunate to have a chaplain to call on for spiritual guidance and pastoral support. New Chaplain Chris Lee is no stranger to the Ngāmotu campus and jokes he’s going for the trifecta; a student of Taranaki Polytech in the late seventies, a tutor in the nineties and earlier this month he joined the Student Success Team in a part-time role as Chaplain.

Employed by the Taranaki Tertiary Chaplaincy Trust Board, Chris’s role is to support students and staff experiencing both the joys and difficulties of their lives at WITT.

“Support services take a holistic view of a person’s health and wellbeing and Chaplains play an important part here at WITT Te Pūkenga addressing the wairua (spiritual) wellbeing of our ākonga and kaimahi,” says WITT Te Pūkenga Director of Student Success Zanetta Hinton.

A member of City Life Church since 1981, Chris and his wife led the church for 19 years after being ordained as Lead Kaitiaki in 2003.

While Chris is a Christian, as an ecumenical chaplain he supports students and staff of all religious backgrounds. He finds that between his interest in people, sport and music and his faith he’s able to find common ground with people.

He describes his first couple of weeks in the new role as a ‘soft landing’ as he reconnects with old colleagues and even former ākonga who are now kaimahi.

“It feels like a good fit and I look forward to being part of a team working toward shared goals,” he says.

Chris sees his role as a pou whirinaki – a trusted friend and a ‘post’ others can lean on. He says he’s someone who has your best interests at heart and he’s motivated to help people do life better.

In addition to his chaplaincy role at WITT, Chris has also been a Police chaplain for the last 11 years, a sports chaplain for the Taranaki Airs and supports others in ‘helping professions’ with professional supervision.

Born in the United States, Chris moved from Boulder, Colorado to New Plymouth as a 17-year-old and initially wanted to be a physiotherapist. Needing to learn physics led to gaining a New Zealand Certificate in Science (NZCS) at Taranaki Polytech, which in turn led to lab work at Taranaki Base Hospital bypassing a career as a physio. It was after this role that Chris returned to Taranaki Polytech as a tutor,  initially working in the nursing school and then moving to the business school teaching IT.

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