Our History: 2006

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In 2006, never one to miss a party, Whitireia celebrated its twentieth birthday in May, farewelled Deirdre Dale in August, and in September welcomed a new chief executive 

Twenty years young and a farewell to Deirdre Dale

On 26 May, Whitireia marked the completion of its second decade with a Pasifika-flavoured celebration in Te Kete Wānanga, a building that perfectly encapsulated the evolving Whitireia as a contemporary institution conscious of its past and guiding principles. Entertainment for the 500 guests was spread throughout the building on three different stages: a jazz band performed on stage three, a brass band with guitar on stage one, and an acapella group on stage two, while performing arts students past and present performed Māori, Samoa and Cook Island repertoire across all three. Visual arts was represented too, with images projected on the side wall, featuring the work of students Aidan Griffin, Natasha Millar, Jude Perry, Spring Rees, Michael Schlup and Kathryn Yeats. The event was described by coordinator Tim Renner as a very Whitireia-appropriate "cultural fusion" in the food as well as the entertainment.

To permanently commemorate the polytechnic's 20th birthday, a large contingent of the 500 staff employed at Whitireia assembled for a group photograph at the Porirua campus on Friday 19 May. The resulting panoramic shot captured a vast panoply of faces, some old, some new, outside the Business and Computing Centre with Te Kete Wānanga in the background.

Staff photo 2006

Whitireia staff 2006

Later in the year, Te Kete Wānanga was the location  for another event when the polytechnic farewelled chief executive Deirdre Dale. Her time at Whitireia was celebrated on Thursday 31 August by polytechnic staff, and representatives of Porirua City, Ngāti Toa, and Pacific Island communities, along with MP for Mana, Hon. Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, and Porirua Mayor Jenny Brash.

Deirdre Dale cake 1996

The farewell cake for Deirdre Dale, our kete mātauranga

Whitireia Council chair Dennis Sharman paid tribute to Deirdre’s commitment to Whitireia and to education within the community. "Student numbers and revenues are measures that the tertiary sector uses to indicate success of an institution and, while I agree that they are important, these are only a small measure of Deirdre’s contribution to Whitireia and to the communities that she has served over the years. Deirdre knows that we as an organisation have a social responsibility to help the communities because she knows that if you can breathe life and heart into a community then the community can grow."

Whitireia music students performed jazz, catering students prepared and served cocktails and cookery programme manager Nige Cox made a celebratory cake featuring woven harakeke icing and the three past logos of Whitireia. At an earlier staff event, Deirdre Dale was presented with a whale ivory brooch created by jewellery artist and tutor Owen Mapp, and flowers, which she described as "more beautiful than my wedding bouquet," from floristry tutor Megan Parker. 

Don Campbell

In 2006, Whitireia welcomed its third chief executive, Don Campbell, who had spent the previous six years as the head of Tai Poutini Polytechnic on the West Coast. He was chosen from among 48 applicants, and Whitireia Council chair Dennis Sharman spoke to his talents, remarking that he would bring a wealth of expertise to Whitireia Community Polytechnic. "He has a proven track record of sound financial management and strong student growth at Tai Poutini and has demonstrated the ability to establish strategic partnerships with the local community... The tertiary sector will continue to undergo major change over the next few years. Don’s appointment at Whitireia will ensure that we are well positioned to provide an excellent vocational education for our students and to continue to make a significant contribution to the communities that we serve."

Don Campbell would spend nine years as Whitireia chief executive, continuing many of the developments begun by his predecessor, Deirdre Dale.  He succeeded in growing the institution, both in size, quality and reputation, and it was under his stewardship that key developments, including the growth of Whitireia in Kāpiti and Wellington, and the continued redevelopment of the Porirua campus, took flight. 

Don Campbell in 2010

Chief executive Don Campbell in 2010

Performing Arts, breaking dance boundaries

It was another busy year for Performing Arts at Whitireia, with students performing at  the 20th birthday celebration in Te Kete Wānanga, before heading off on their annual international tour. This year the destination was North America and the students held their farewell shows at the Hosanna Fellowship Centre in Cannons Creek, where they welcomed Sam Fuataga as a special guest artist. Sam Fuataga was an early student of the Performing Arts programme who, with Neil Ieremia, was a founding member of dance company Black Grace. Performing Arts would return to the Hosanna Fellowship Centre in November for another season, this time presenting almost entirely new work in graduate shows.

Performing Arts Farewell show ad 2006

Performing Arts advertisement for farewell shows


In the news

Back with a Berklee attitude
Kapi Mana 04.01.2006, by Rebecca Stevenson

Coming home was quite a culture shock for Andy Mauafua. The Whitireia Community Polytechnic lecturer and musician fulfilled a dream he had had since age 16 when he attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA in July of 2005.  It was such a life-changing experience and the guitarist was still in somewhat of a daze and was working through the changes he would now make to his life.

"I learned heaps, and it was a lot to take in but when I came back everything has come back to me in my notes."

Mauafua went to Berklee to train with the best musicians from around the globe, and to be taught from top performers who had become internationally successful. While he expected to be pushed professionally, what was unexpected was the personal journey he also undertook.

“One of the great things about the course was just learning about the music industry and how to make a career out of it. They show you all the possibilities and talk about the importance of improving life skills and making sure you are making ethical judgements – they helped us out as a whole.”

The course itself was days of practicing, playing, studying and talking to the tutors and other students. Most of all, he says he learned never to lower his standards and to always strive for the best – an attitude he is now taking back to his students. Now it is crucial to him that other Pacific Islanders see what they can achieve. “Some of them think they are disadvantaged in some way, I just want them to know we can do things. I pushed myself on. I didn’t want to be left behind."

Andy Mauafua is looking forward to returning to Boston some day in the future.


Waka design wins national award
Kapi Mana 06.06.2006, by Rebecca Stevenson

Whitireia Community Polytechnic’s Te Kete Wānanga had garnered a national architecture award. The building, which houses both the polytechnic’s library and learning centre, won a New Zealand Institute of Architects Resene Award for Architecture on May 27, 2006.

The building is modelled on a wharewaka, used for housing canoes.  It’s curved like a waka and is bordered by a pond, planted out with reeds, which leads into a native wetland. Designed by Athfield Architects, it is a fusion of Athfield’s signature industrial look and the warmth of the natural surroundings, says Whitireia library manager Heather Bradley.

She says the two storey library complex is fabulous to work in as the extensive use of glass makes it light and cosy, but most importantly it embraces the spectacular view over the Porirua Harbour.


New Whitireia boss comes with Southland credentials
Kapi Mana 13.06.2006, by Sean Gillespie

Whitireia Community Polytechnic has lured the head of one of the South Island’s most successful polytechs to be its new boss. Don Campbell, head of Tai Poutini Polytechnic in Greymouth, took up the job of chief executive to replace Deirdre Dale.

Mr Campbell is well-known in the South Island for introducing a no-fees policy at Tai Poutini’s Greymouth campus in 2005 and continuing the year with a $4.2 million surplus. He says it was too early to say whether such a policy could be implemented at Whitireia, but was interested in what the community sees as a good idea.

“My preference is to make tertiary education more affordable and accessible, but you still have to make sure the polytechnic remains viable as a business."

Whitireia Council chairman Dennis Sharman says Mr Campbell’s comprehensive knowledge of the tertiary sector and his strategic understanding of the key issues are significant factors in his appointment. "My preference is to make tertiary education more affordable and accessible, but when it comes down to it you still have to make sure the polytechnic remains viable as a business."

Originally from Dunedin, he was in Northland for 22 years and had lived on the West Coast for six years. He is married with three children – two daughters and a son – as well as two grandchildren, who live in Titahi Bay. His wife, Liz, is a professional counsellor working in child and adolescent mental health in Greymouth.

At Whitireia, Mr Campbell takes responsibility for a polytechnic that has experienced rapid growth. It had more than 500 staff and 7185 Kiwi and international students at campuses in Porirua, Kāpiti, Wellington and Auckland in 2006.


Happy birthday
City Life News 31.05.2006, by Andrew Bonallack

Whitireia Community Polytechnic showed off the creme of its student talent at its 20th anniversary party last Friday evening, held in their library Te Kete Wānanga. Current and returning performing arts students entertained up to 500 invited guests with Pacific Island dance and song; catering students prepared and served whole spit-roasted pigs, and hospitality students kept the food and drink flowing amongst the guests.

Whitireia programme manager for performing arts Gaylene Sciascia says it was a wonderful night. "It's nice to pause for a moment and celebrate these things. A lot of staff have been here from the start - it's been a real journey."

Porirua city councillor Naureen Palmer says she could remember the Whitireia of "a few prefabs" 20 years ago. "I haven't been here for untold years - I walked in tonight and wow!"

Performing Arts Happy Birthday 2006

Whitireia Performing Arts students perform at the 20th birthday celebration


Whitireia Polytechnic Chief Executive farewelled
Dominion Post 02.09.2006

It’s farewell to Whitireia Polytechnic chief executive Deirdre Dale, who stood down from the top job after more than 16 years with the tertiary institution. And she was sent off in style in September 2006 with Whitireia music students performing a jazz selection in her honour, and catering students preparing and serving cocktails. At an earlier function, floristry tutor, Megan Parker presented her with flowers which Ms Dale says were "more beautiful than her wedding bouquet."


Graduates to shine at Whitireia finale
Kapi Mana 21.11.2006, by Rebecca Stevenson

Fresh faces and costumes await those who get along and see Whitireia Performing Arts’ Graduation Show for 2006. Uplifting, contemporary theatre is being showcased from today, with afternoon and evening performances being held at Hosanna Fellowship Church until December 2.

Recently back from a successful international tour in America, Whitireia graduating students are promising an exciting, original experience with an almost entirely new show.

Graduates to Shine 2006


Acting up at hip hop high
Kapi Mana 12.12.2006, by Kate Bleasdale

Acting was something Vanepale Sopoega had never done professionally until a couple of months ago. Hip hop dancing wasn’t really his forte either.

However, the Pukerua Bay resident and former performing arts student of Whitireia Community Polytechnic managed to land the role of hip hop-dancing Hone Kingi in TV2’s series, Karaoke High, set to air while Shortland Street took a break over the summer of 2006. 

"It was hard out," Vane says about going for the audition with classmate Halaifonua Finau. "I’d never been to Avalon before ... we kept seeing random famous people walk past."

Both auditioned for the role of Hone, which Vane managed to get, while Halaifonua was given the role of Matu Johnson, another hip hop student. Because he’d never done a proper audition before, Vane says he took it “as more of a laugh” rather than a serious opportunity but it paid off for him then came the hard part – learning hip hop dancing. Although he had an advanced diploma in the more traditional Haka, Vane says learning the hip hop technique was “pretty tricky” and is proud to say all the dancing is done by him, with no doubles.


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