Whitireia is a name our people brought from Hawaiiki with them. They believe it came from the ngā atua, from the gods. That name is very deep in the Māori world. There are two names in Māoridom that we say are from the gods, and Whitireia is one of them.
– Ihakara Arthur, Ngāti Toa kaumātua

At Whitireia we have always been proud of our history. From the beginning, it could be said that Whitireia had a sense of belonging to something older and more ancient than itself, taking on a name that, as Ngāti Toa kaumātua Ihakara Arthur described it, was from the ngā atua, the gods. The very role given to Whitireia, or Parumoana as it was then briefly known, to provide Porirua and the surrounding region with hitherto unavailable options in tertiary education, gave a sense of purpose. It was a mandate that facilitated a belief that what began with a historic groundbreaking one cold dawn in 1985 would continue to grow from strength to strength.

Tapu Lifting 1985 02

Wāra Katene and Patariki Te Rei at the dawn tapu-lifting and groundbreaking ceremony 

It was arguably this sense of history in the making that compelled founding principal Turoa Royal to formally request on 19 March 1986 that librarian Chanel White document all material of historical significance to the polytechnic, and that she make a record of any media references to Whitireia, in order to "assist future historians to write about the history of our college." These media clippings were painstakingly photocopied and archived in an ever-growing collection of ringbinders, and it is the efforts of Chanel and subsequent archivists that have contributed significantly to this section of the Whitireia website. While ringbinders full of newspaper clippings may have given way to digital records, it is to Turoa Royal's credit that his foresight facilitated an ever-evolving archive that provides a much needed source of veracity when memory fails.

As Turoa Royal had foreseen, this archive proved invaluable not just for our online annals but for previous documentations of the history of Whitireia. In 1996, to mark ten years as an institution, Adrienne Jansen and Tracey Scadden compiled and edited the book Whitireia Conversations: Our First Ten Years, while fifteen years later, 25 Years: Leading and Illuminating was able to be still more comprehensive, backed up by invaluable data from the archives. Fitting, then, that on 19 June 2012, 26 years after writing his memo to Chanel White, Turoa Royal was able to sit with his two successors at Takapūwāhia Marae and sign copies of a book borne from his foresight.

Turoa Royal 25 Year Book Launch 2012

Turoa Royal, Don Campbell and Deirdre Dale at the launch of 25 Years: Leading and Illuminating at Takapūwāhia Marae