It was a year of new things for the polytechnic in 1989, with a new name, a new associate director and a new building
The year was a momentous one, marking a significant change as Parumoana Community Polytechnic became Whitireia Community Polytechnic. Early in the year, the council had made a recommendation to the Associate Minister of Education that the name be changed to Whitireia Community Polytechnic – Te Kura Matatini o Whitireia – and the change came into effect in September of that year. It was widely felt that the new name more accurately reflected the regional nature of the polytechnic and its aspiration ‘to lead and illuminate our communities through tertiary education.’
Founding associate principal/director Marjorie Truong had been seconded to a Department of Education position the previous year and after a gap of six months, her replacement, Deirdre Dale, a former acting associate director and head of school at Wanganui Community College, was welcomed to the polytechnic. This was a significant appointment as she would go on to become the polytechnic's second chief executive eight years later when Turoa Royal retired.
Deirdre Dale was welcomed to the polytechnic in early 1999 with a ceremony combining elements from several cultures. It was, she said, a ceremony that reflected "the enthusiasm and commitment of the college." She described how she had been attracted by the polytechnic's commitment to equity. "I like to see courses run which attract students who haven't had their share of the education cake," she said.
This philosophy, shared by both Deirdre Dale and the polytechnic, would prove to be fundamental throughout her tenure first as associate director, and ultimately as a chief executive who oversaw tremendous growth for Whitireia and the opportunities it provided to students.
By 1988, the polytechnic was bulging at the seams, with over 300 students and 160 staff using the Porirua campus. More temporary classrooms were being built to supplement the 28 already in use, and by July of that year, work was underway on the campus’s first permanent building. Opened in September 1989, the $2.1 million block was designed by architects T.G. Dykes, and was created in the shape of two touching circles, one named after Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves and the other after former Education Minister Russell Marshall. The building would house the administration centre, a teachers’ resource centre, and the Russell Marshall library.
"This is a most welcome addition," said Graham Kelly, MP for Porirua at the time. "It will be a visible sign of the permanence of the Polytechnic and is a continuation of the commitment by the government to the educational facilities in Porirua."
Turoa Royal explained that the design of the building with its two touching circles was a specific reference to Pacific culture. "When you look at it, it's not a square building, it's round. We wanted to capture some of the building shapes of the Pacific and a lot of their important building shapes are round. The college needed to express the culture of the people around us."
The original administration centre, which had been one of the first prefabricated buildings completed in 1985, became offices for the health faculty, until it was finally removed in 2011 to make way for the Wikitoria Katene building.
Tutors Owen Mapp, Michel Tuffery and Hemi Wiki carved a mural into one of the cinderblock walls of the Sir Paul Reeves wing of the new building. Called Whakatupu: Growth: Tupu, the artists described how the mural represented "growth within Whitireia Community Polytechnic and the Porirua community as a whole." They described how "The heart of this concept is represented by an embryo, being the beginning of life, with the roots below searching the soil, nurturing the tree of life above, growing with the mountain of this area, Whitireia. Our taniwha represents the people of this land, since past, though they remain as guardians, kaitiaki."
The three tutors had sought through their carving to embellish the Whitireia campus and this was the first of many times that the artists of Whitireia would add to the mana and wairua of the campus with their work. This would come full circle in 2013 when James Molnar, who studied under Owen Mapp and Michel Tuffery, created many of the graphic elements used throughout the Wikitoria Katene building, with the chisel and hammer now replaced by computer-aided design and moulded concrete.
In the news
Parumoana Community Polytechnic welcomed its new associate director Deirdre Dale with a Māori powhiri this morning.
Mrs Dale was acting associate director and HOD of technical and community studies at Wanganui Community College. She replaces Marjorie Truong who has transferred to a Department of Education position.
Parumoana Community Polytechnic are again faced with having to decide on a name change. At the Polytechnic Council meeting this week Ngāti Toa elders, Harata Solomon and Puoho Katene, put their reasons for now calling the Polytechnic Whitireia. The name, although considered seriously in a long public debate, was not chosen when the Polytechnic first opened because the name Parumoana was recommended by the Takapūwāhia Marae Committee. The council accepted their opinion in good faith.
However the two kaumatua present at this week's council meeting of the polytechnic explained that these Māori did not represent all the Iwi of the area or all functions of the committee. From the meeting held in the area at the time, it was felt a name "wider than the Tangata Whenua and encompassing all iwi and all marae the college covers" to be important. The naming came from the Marae Committee which ignored the findings of these meetings" Puoho Katene told the meeting.
Māori Womens Welfare League representative on the Council, Taukiri Thomason, said that everyone at the time had wanted Whitireia even though she seconded the motion in support of Whitireia. The appropriateness of the name Whitireia states a boundary about the iwi that lives down here. Culturally it means a great deal to us" Harata Soloman said. "The name Whitireia suggests a looking over the horizon to the light and glow of a new place of learning coming into our community. The literal, spiritual and cultural meaning is all important to us."
Two Parumoana Community College business studies course graduates recently received the National Certificate in Business Studies. Lisa van Rijswijk and Patricia McBride-Wilson were presented with their certificates by Parumoana's associate director Dierdre Dale.
The course started two years ago with 14 entrants and three tutors. Initially full-time, the NCB course became part-time last year. Some foundation students are still taking modules, course supervisor Jan Watkins said last week. When much is being made of funding cuts which have caused some Access courses to be dropped, she is delighted the business studies course has grown in popularity.
There are over 100 students in nine full-time courses this year, being taken by 11 full-time and 20 part-time tutors.
Porirua’s Parumoana Polytechnic was given a new name. From September 1989, the four-year-old institution was to be known as Whitireia Community Polytechnic.
Polytechnic Council chairman Tino Meleisea said the name change was first suggested by the area's tangata whenua, Ngati Toa, in 1988 and had been discussed at length since then. Ngati Toa gave the polytechnic its first name in 1985 but Mr Meleisea mentioned kaumatua said Whitireia was a more appropriate name now because the regional nature of the name tied in with the polytechnic's responsibility to extend its services to locations as far away as Waikanae.
Whitireia is the Māori name for Mt Cooper in Titahi Bay and from the top it is possible to see all of the polytechnic's area. The name means "onrushing brilliance from a luminous source; a source of light, or rays engulfing light."
Part of the Whitireia Polytechnic's four-year battle for permanent buildings has been won, its first permanent building has officially opened. The polytechnic had taught its students in prefabricated buildings since it opened in 1986, said principal Turoa Royal.
The new building took a year to build and cost about $2.1 million. It is in the shape of two touching circles, which house the administration centre, the library and a teachers' resource centre. One circle is named after Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves, the other after Pacific Island Affairs Minister Russell Marshall. Both were guests of honour at the opening ceremony.
Mr Royal said the polytechnic's next building priorities were a centre for its craft course, then a new building for tourism and hospitality courses. "It will depend on when money is available, and restructuring (of tertiary education) will affect this."