In 1997, Whitireia turned seven, coinciding with provisions in the government's budget that allowed an additional 300 students to be accepted into study
Māori studies had always had a significant place at Whitireia, dating back to the first days of Parumoana Community College in 1986. This was solidified in 1992 when Tauhu Mitai-Ngatai was appointed and tasked with creating a specific Māori faculty. At the time, the nascent faculty consisted of a small number of courses, and tutors who had energy and commitment but less management and plan skills. Tauhu Mitai-Ngatai, therefore, saw it important not to begin by creating new programmes of study but instead by focusing on the structure of the department and establishing a philosophy. Staff development was a priority in the first year, with staff meeting over ten weeks to work on their understanding of te Tiriti o Waitangi, and to strengthen their spiritual and philosophical base.
"This is a decolonisation programme," said Tauhu Mitai-Ngatai. "People get frightened of the word 'decolonisation,' but it is all structured towards a positive outcome. We are saying to people 'Get serious about your future. Get serious about breaking the cycles of poverty, or alcoholism, or whatever it is that has held you down. Get serious about education. About the Treaty. And about what partnership means to Māori."
The business plan for Te Wānanga Māori was intended to follow a traditional approach, with staff taking their lead from how the old people used to approach such issues. The logo developed for Te Wānanga Māori expressed many of these ideas, featuring a tree flanked by tupuna rooted in the earth, supporting an overarching kōtuku representing the connection with God, Io Matua Kore. The growth cycle of the tree provided a map of the student's journey, being comprised of Nga Pu (the seed), Nga Weu (growth, the hairs develop from the seeds), Nga More (the maturing of the roots), Nga Rito (the ground breaking as the idea newly emerges), Nga Taketake (the growth of the trunk, the goal), Nga Pukenga (the first brand, the strategy), Nga Wānanga (the branches spreading as new ideas form), Nga Taura (the leaves, ideas diversify), and finally Nga Tauira (the fruit of results). Then the fruit falls to the ground and feeds the new seeds.
In a profile in Manu Korero it was noted that while Te Wānanga Māori had a cultural base, it reflected the aspirations of many people who worked at Whitireia, both Māori and non-Māori, to work in a non-hierarchical non-competitive way, and to provide programmes that took into account the whole person. "Whitireia has provided a culturally supportive environment in which the faculty can grow, and the support of Ngāti Toa has also been important to this growth," said Tauhu Mitai-Ngatai.
Whitireia Polytechnic plans to take on 300 more students in 1993. The Government's Budget includes provision for 7500 more tertiary places. Whitireia director, Turoa Royal, says the Polytechnic hopes to claim 300 of those and divide them between the Polytechnic's Porirua and Kāpiti bases. The Polytechnic currently has just over 800 students.
The work of four Whitireia Polytechnic design students will be unveiled with the opening of the new Porirua City Council chambers later this month. Ernest Sami, Eric Ngan, Wi Taepa and Tracey Huxford are all in their fourth year of design studies. They were commissioned to design two large murals and window decorations for the new chambers' reception area. The project is due to be finished by June 19.
The students based their design on the idea of the evolution of Porirua as a community and used shapes and patterns from all cultures in the city. Triangles, which are used in the art of all cultures, represent Porirua's houses in the mural. Other symbols incorporated into the designs are the kowhaiwhai pattern which means caring and the Celtic triad which means unity and eternity.
Jack Kirifi, James Molnar, and Jonathan Pahetogia are among those exhibiting in Origins, the annual exhibition of work by Whitireia Polytechnic art students.
Origins, now in its third year, is a programme of art and cultural studies, including language, that is unique to the polytechnic's art school. All artwork, by both staff and students, is based on ancestral heritage. Sixty five staff and students were represented in an exhibition; this year's show is characterised by larger than life painting and craft works appropriate for the immense space of Page 90 Artspace where the exhibition runs until August 14.
Most of the students in the exhibition are from the Porirua, Kāpiti Coast area with some places far beyond the Kapi-Mana area. The spread in locations, the growth in quality work and the commitment to the Origins programme is drawing a high-standard of applications to the art school, says Anne Philbin, programme manager for arts at Whitireia. Now bursting at the seams, the school is bursting at the seams the school is adding four new buildings to allow early applications and acceptance for local students.
It was great news all round for Whitireia Community Polytechnic in November 1992. Whitireia was told it could take on an extra 200 students in 1993, as well as more tutors and courses. The polytechnic was granted enough government funding to accommodate a 17% boost in student numbers. This is the largest increase offered to a Wellington tertiary institution. Polytechnic director Turoa Royal saw it as fantastic news. The increase meant more tutors, buildings, and the introduction of several new courses. Popular courses such as computer studies, business and tourism received more resources.