Between 1990 and 1994, the Whitireia roll almost doubled and student common facilities were beginning to bulge at the seams
To accommodate the exponentially increasing student numbers, a new $1million, 825sqm student services building was constructed at the Whitireia campus in Porirua.
Te Rito Poipoiā – ‘the place of nurturing for the extended family’ – was officially opened by Governor-General Dame Sylvia Cartwright on 9 March 1995. The occasion attracted a strong attendance from local communities and officialdom, and included a tree-planting ceremony before concluding, as was the style of the time, with an ecumenical service. Wellington community newspaper Contact ran a double-page feature on the new building and local businesses involved in its construction included advertisements congratulating Whitireia.
The building was at least six times the size of the previous facilities and brought all the student services together under one roof. It housed student association offices, catering facilities and a large cafeteria, a shop offering stationery and textbooks, health and counselling areas, two meeting rooms, a student common room and quiet room, a student exchange for textbooks and other essentials, and toilet blocks.
"The development looks to the future," said student association manager Karen Ross. "It’s a real commitment by the polytechnic to the welfare of students."
The architect for the project, Bruce Warden, said the aim of the development was to create a comfortable and spacious student activity centre, while keeping cost in mind. The building design was based on two enlarged class room blocks, with a peaked foyer joining the two together to form an L-shape that curved around a central amphitheater-type courtyard; an area that would later become known as the Atrium when the space was redesigned in 2008.
Thanks to a grant given to the Student Association by the National Bank, Whitireia third year visual arts diploma students were commissioned to create all of the original artwork in the foyer, including a large sculptural centrepiece by Brian Campbell, a carving by Hawaikirangi Stewart, and kites designed by Bev Joan that were suspended from the vaulted ceiling.
Another area of growth for Whitireia in the early 1990s was the Kāpiti Coast. It had been acknowledged as early as 1986 that Whitireia should have a presence on the Kāpiti Coast, with then-Minister of Education Russell Marshall providing a directive to the original polytechnic council that its catchment area extend from Tawa in the south to Waikanae in the north. From 1988, a number of Whitireia courses were offered at various locations in Kāpiti, with the most significant being in 1990 when two offices in the old Lucas Print building in the Te Roto Drive industrial complex became home to a full-time office assistant course and an evening accounting module. But it was not until 1992 that the development of a comprehensive educational facility in the area was seriously considered.
A feasibility study in 1993 clearly identified the need for a new campus, with the existing Kāpiti facilities fast approaching capacity and demand in the area continuing to grow. Subsequently, Whitireia began a planning process that led to the purchase of a ten-acre block at Lindale, just north of Paraparaumu.
"The choice of land proved difficult," said then chair of the Whitireia Council, Margaret Faulkner. "We got quite a way down the line in 1994 with a chosen site, and then discovered at the resource consents hearing that we were right on a flight pathway. That was a great disappointment to us… We then selected the Lindale site, amid some opposition. There were some people who felt we had bought a ‘pig in a poke’, because the area was very peaty and seemed unsuitable for permanent buildings."
Despite the initial misgivings, the development eventually received the support of the Mayor, the Kāpiti Enterprise Trust and the local community. A rapid building programme got underway and in July, the site was blessed by kaumatua and kuia from Whakarongotai Marae with four mauri stones placed at its four corners. The stones, two from Kāpiti Island and two from the Waikanae river, were brought to the site, blessed, and given to chief executive Turoa Royal and three Ati Awa kaumatua, Ake Taiaki, Tuki Takiwa and Robert Ngaia. Turoa Royal and the three kaumatua each placed one of the stones, accompanied by prayer and singing. The four stones represented tauira (the students), wānanga (house of learning), te kiki oranga (the top) and te keke oraro (the bottom). Kaumatua Paul Ropata mixed soil from Whakarongotai Marae with earth from the site of the first building to be erected, and the ceremony concluded with speeches from council representatives Tino Meleisea, Rev Don Borrie, and deputy chief executive Deirdre Dale.
On 25 September, the first concrete was poured in a ceremony at the Lindale site and construction got underway. Staff from Whitireia and the Kāpiti Coast District Council attended and the honour of shoveling in the first pour went to Whitireia Council Chair Margaret Faulkner. Also in attendance were deputy chief executive Deirdre Dale, Vicky Russell (Computers) and Hone Davis (Māori studies) amongst others.
When the campus officially opened ahead of the 1996 intake, it was marketed as being "situated in a park-like environment, surrounded by rolling hills," and offering "excellent learning facilities, including modern computer suites, library and an up-to-date, well equipped training kitchen." Kāpiti would have over 200 enrolments in the first year of the new campus, with a total of 176 EFTS (equivalent full-time students). The new facility provided some parallel courses to those offered at the Porirua campus, but others were unique to Kāpiti - including Adventure Tourism and the Toi Whakaata (Māori Video and TV production) programme. The Lindale campus would remain the base for Whitireia course offerings on the Kāpiti Coast until 2012, when a new campus was opened on Kāpiti Road in Paraparaumu.
On 27 October a major celebration of Te Reo Māori occurred at the Porirua campus with staff, students, and guests attending a day-long event called Ma Whero Ma Pango Ma Tea ('for red, for black, for white'). "Red signifies chiefs or chiefliness, black signifies the whole iwi and white signifies the importance of learning and higher learning and the Tohunga or that special person," said Tauhu Mitai-Ngatai, the director of Te Wānanga Māori.
Guests, including Tame Iti and renowned Ngāti Awa kuia (and te Taniwha o Te Reo) Mīria Simpson, were welcomed on to Whitireia with performances by Te Tohu Mutunga Kore students. After the pōwhiri, a replica of Te Tiriti o Waitangi bearing the signatures of Ngāti Toa chiefs was unveiled in the main administration foyer by kaumatua Ihakara Arthur and Mīria Simpson. Following refreshments in the administration block there was a presentation to the polytechnic of a taonga of harakeke by weaver Tangi Robinson, while a copy of Mīria Simpson's book Ngā Tohu o Te Tiriti: Making a Mark was also gifted.
Crowds in the central courtyard were entertained into the lunch hour with performances from Whitireia performing arts students, Whitireia music students, and Ngāti Toa School's kapa haka group (whose number included at least one future Whitireia student).
In the news
Whitireia Community Polytechnic has been given the go-ahead to establish a new community law centre in Porirua. It will be based at the Community Services Centre in Pember House, said Legal Services Board executive director, Dave Smith. A three-person trust with one polytech and two other community representatives will run the centre and oversee Whitireia's daily management of it, he said.
Whitireia law tutor centre manager, Bill Bevan, was still awaiting official confirmation of the decision when Kapi-Mana News talked to him in March 1995, but said he was pleased to hear the project was going ahead. The two other representatives included someone appointed by the board, and someone appointed by both the board and the polytech - a representative from Ngāti Toa.
A community liaison group will be set up to advise the trust and the polytech has been contracted to provide the services.
The much awaited new student facilities building at Whitireia Community Polytechnic was officially opened today. Guest of honour, the Honourable Dame Silvia Cartwright, DBE, opened the building following a traditional karanga and karakia.
Guests at the opening included representatives from local colleges and businesses plus members of Whitireia Polytechnic Council, staff and Student Association past and present.
The opening was the culmination of much hard work by polytechnic staff, student association, architects Bruce Warden, and contractors.
Whitireia Community Polytechnic students are hard at work on designs for the new city centre restaurant and bar which had been given the final go-ahead. The Porirua Licensing Trust development will cost about $400,000. Porirua City Council granted consent for the Lydney Place project. The contract had been let to Wellington firm McGuiness L T Ltd. Plans for the premises, built in the building which housed the former TAB and Prestons Butchery, had been extended to include a next door jewellery shop. The project was expected to be finished by the end of May 1995.
Students James Harcourt and Tony Hawkins are pictured working on one of the three totem poles, designed by fellow student Paula Garratt, which sits outside the 370 square metre building.
The copper pieces will adorn the poles in a tattoo design, which will also feature inside the bar. Huge seven metre sails will hang across the ceiling, over the floor which will be crated to resemble the shape of Porirua Harbour. Woodcuts based on cave painting motifs will be set into tabletops.
The aim of the project being completed by the polytechnic's national diploma in craft design course is to incorporate aspects of many cultures - a reflection of the multicultural nature of the city.
Porirua will become the focus for performing artists from across the Pacific and Asia in 1997. Whitireia Polytechnic has initiated a plan to host an Asia Pacific Youth Performing Arts Festival in September 1997.
Organising Committee chairman, Don Borrie says the ground work for the festival had been laid by the extensive series of international performance by the Whitireia Performing Arts Group over the last four years. The group had performed in Switzerland, France, North Korea, Malaysia and China among others. This June and July they will further extend their overseas experience with trips to three international folk festivals in Germany and Slovenia.
Titahi Bay band Southside of Bombay is releasing a new single called Umbadada which they hope will go gold following their song What's the time, Mr Wolf. The second best-selling NZ single for 1994, What's the time, Mr Wolf is currently being released as a single in Australia, Europe and the USA in conjunction with the Once Were Warriors soundtrack.
Both the artwork and the accompanying video feature Porirua talent. Cover work is by Porirua artist James Molnar and the video showcases students from Whitireia Polytechnic and people from the streets of Wellington singing Umbadada.
To celebrate the release, a gig is being held at Antipodes on the corner of Cuban and Vivian Streets on Friday May 19. Entertainment will include The Chemistry Boys (9.30pm), In the Whare (10.15pm) followed by Southside of Bombay (11.00pm).
Seven Whitireia Community Polytechnic art students will have a lot to be proud of when the City Cafe and Bar opens to the public tomorrow at 10am. Andrew Simpson, Kyleigh Adrian, Charlotte Morse, Paula Garratt, James Harcourt, Bev Joan and Jenny Walters designed the interior of Porirua's latest cafe/bar.
The work includes a floor design depicting the Porirua harbour Pacific flavour ceiling and surface designs. A tattoo motif and woven copper panels, with jarrah timber uprights, create a Pacific Island nautical theme for the bar and other decor. The spirits rail incorporates rock drawings and tattoo designs and the bar mirror features a sand blasted version of the rock drawing. Similar design aspects are repeated in the food service area. The outdoor bar has three 2m high totems with inlaid copper decoration, surrounded by steel fern fronds.
Each table has different woodcut designs photographed and processed onto its top. Large sails in a parchment colour, hanging from the ceiling, are placed to lead through to other parts of the bar. Students have also hand textured the back walls and the front wall in the dining area. Even the doors have copper push plates with a striking copper etched design made by the students.
Whitireia Community Polytechnic has had a 78 percent growth in the number of tertiary places funded by the Ministry of Education during the past four years. Commenting in the polytechnic's annual report, chief executive Turoa Royal said the number of tertiary places generally funded by the ministry between 1991 and 1995 had only risen by 22.6 percent. There were a number of reasons for the huge growth of Whitireia. Polytechnics which achieved their student target each year were more often given increased funding the following year. Every year Whitireia has exceeded the targets negotiated with the Ministry of Education.
The Whitireia Performing Arts Class is leaving tomorrow on a month long tour to represent New Zealand and Porirua at folk festivals in Germany, Slovenia and Nishio. The 36 member group, which includes 30 students, will perform a full Cook Island, Maori and Samoan repertoire at three five day folklore festivals in Schessel and Shlitz in Germany and in Maribor, Slovenia, formerly Czechoslovakia.
These annual festivals are attended by countries from all over the world. New Zealand groups were always in high demand and the festival organisers, The Cultural Organisation of International Folk Loric Festivals, were very keen to have the Whitireia group attend. As well as performances, students will be involved in workshops where people from other countries can learn poi, drum dance and haka. They will also be taught about the meaning of dance movements and the cultural stories behind them.
Several thousand people crammed into Porirua's city centre in October 1995 for the official opening of the $4 million covered walkways. The day-long event turned out to be a show-case of cultures, song and dance involving a diverse range of acts that included the Whitireia Performing Arts group, Latin American Band Solatino, Japanese Taiko Drummers, Maori cultural group Tamatea, Sam Manzanza, women's vocal group Faultline, the Titahi Bay Intermediate cultural group, various Pacific Island groups, pipe bands and Homer Simpson.
Music, song and dance rocked the very foundations of Whitireia Polytechnic recently as staff, students, and guests celebrated Te Reo Māori. Ma Whero Ma Pango Ma Tea Day (for red, for black, for white) was the name given to the day of celebration.
"Red signifies chiefs or chiefliness, black signifies the whole iwi and white signifies the importance of learning and higher learning and the Tohunga or that special person," said Tauhu Mitai-Ngatai, the director of the Māori faculty.
The unveiling, in the main administration foyer, of Te Tiriti O Waitangi which bears the signatures of Ngāti Toa chiefs was a highlight of the day. Another was the presentation to the polytechnic of a Taonga made from harakeke - a fibre incorporating paua shells - made by Tangi Robinson. A book, Nga Tohu o Te Tiriti: Making a Mark by Mīria Simpson was also presented. Ngāti Toa School kapa haka group entertained the crowds into the lunch hour giving a memorable well-received performance.
Whitireia Polyechnic's new student services centre has gained a feeling of spirituality with the erection of artworks commissioned for the foyer. The works, completed by students of the polytechnic, were blessed by Whitireia kaumatua Ihakara Arthur, in a ceremony recently. He is pictured (far left) with the students responsible for the three works (left to right) Hawaikirangi Stewart, Brian Campbell and Bev Joan. They are standing in front of Campbell's work "Sculptures," which represents different generations of people and races and is based on the concepts: welcome, family and shelter.