As the polytechnic celebrated 25 years, 2011 saw Whitireia gain new branding and mark its two and a half decades with a fun day at the Porirua campus
Whitireia Community Polytechnic was rebranded as Whitireia New Zealand, with a fresh new look developed by Tangerine Design. Tim Renner, then Director of Communications and Marketing, stated that "The new brand talks about the collaborative, community roots that matter to the polytechnic as well as positioning us strongly in domestic and international markets."
The 25 years since the opening of Whitireia were celebrated with a series of events, including a fun day to which the community were invited, and a staff morning tea attended by chief executive Don Campbell and his two predecessors, Deirdre Dale and Turoa Royal.
In June, Whitireia marked Samoan Independence with a series of events across the day. The day began with an early morning flag raising ceremony, while later activities included a valu popo (coconut grating) competition, traditional song and siva with Samoa Idol, performances by year one Bachelor of Applied Arts (Performing Arts) students, and a traditional taualuga to close.
The Whitireia DJ school has been attracting some overseas attention, despite it not being well known locally. The school has been running for eight years under the guidance of hip-hop artist DJ Raw. In the past two years, the school has been attracting more attention, DJ Raw says. "We usually take 16 but for the last two years we've had double the intake. There was a large waiting list this year, there's just not enough room," he says.
The class is now taking on 20 students, rather than the 16-sized class, to compensate for the increase in applications. Forty people applied for this year's course, and 48 applied last year. DJ Raw says people are desperate to get their feet in the door. "I think it's just a lot of people know about the course now . . . there's quite a few guys out there that have graduated and are successful."
The attention is mostly nationwide, with students coming from as far as Wanaka and Hamilton. Only two of the 20 are from Porirua. And one has ventured to Porirua from London. Michael Smith, 25, otherwise known as DJ Dougal, searched the internet for an appropriate DJ school from his London home. His choices were Sydney, Auckland, Melbourne, Auckland or Porirua's Whitireia. He says Whitireia was the only course that was appropriate - the other music institutes were either night classes, three month courses, or weren't interested in his future.
Smith says he flew to New Zealand to find out about the Whitireia course, and met with DJ Raw. After an hour and a half of DJ Raw's personal time, Smith decided to study DJing at Whitireia. "We talked about where I was going and what I wanted to achieve. I've met a lot of cool people, everyone is real friendly and the course is real good."
The Whitireia DJ course is male dominated. This year they had one female - but she pulled out. Last year the course had four female students, and the year before that had two female students who were the top students in the class. "It's a bit of a man's world but if they are confident then they do well. It's a confidence thing," he says.
Margaret Southwick is a strong believer that education transforms lives. Having just clocked up 26 years' service at Whitireia Community Polytechnic in Porirua, Dr Southwick, dean of the health faculty, says furthering her own education opened doors career-wise. "Education transforms people's lives and I know this in my bones because it transformed mine," she says.
"I would never have believed 20 to 30 years ago that I would one day be dean of a faculty, that I would one day be chair of the [New Zealand] Nursing Council, or that I would be so passionate about education, nursing education in particular."
A trained nurse, Dr Southwick describes herself as a late bloomer when it comes to studying. Once her three children were school-aged she decided to take up a bachelor of arts degree at Victoria University, while also working part-time in aged care.Dr Southwick finished her undergraduate degree, majoring in anthropology and sociology, four years later, just before Whitireia first opened its doors. Initially, Dr Southwick was involved in developing the curriculum for the diploma of nursing, now known as the bachelor of nursing. With her nursing background she felt at home with the technical side of her job, but it was the tutoring side that took some getting used to.
Eight years later Dr Southwick got a more senior position - the head of nursing school, in what was her first stint in management. After four years in that role, Dr Southwick decided to take some time out to do her PhD, while at the same time looking after Whitireia's Pacific Health Research Centre as director and teaching Victoria University's postgraduate masters programme.
On her return to fulltime work at Whitireia three years later, Dr Southwick put her PhD findings into practice, developing two stand- alone programmes - the Bachelor of Nursing Pacific and more recently the Bachelor of Nursing Maori. Both programmes have been embraced not only by the Maori and Pacific communities but also by her professional colleagues.
"What is particularly pleasing is the enthusiasm and support received from clinical colleagues, because they understand that if we are going to do anything about effectively changing the health experience of those two communities then we need to have a workforce that those two communities can relate to." What's more, the students enrolled in those programmes are now achieving the same completion and success rates as those on the original bachelor of nursing programme.
In fact, Dr Southwick's efforts were nationally recognised four years ago when she received the Queen's Service Medal for her contribution to Pacific communities.
Whitireia IT training opens doors
Dominion Post Education Supplement 2011
Like many school-leavers, Chanel Pilcher-Landgraf (21) wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she left Aotea College. She says while she had always enjoyed computing it was her student adviser at college that took the initiative, putting Chanel’s name forward for a Secondary School Leavers Scholarship to study Information Technology (IT) at Whitireia New Zealand. Chanel was awarded the scholarship based on her academic achievement and personal qualities. But before taking it up, she researched qualifications at other universities to find out what they had to offer. She decided on Whitireia, feeling that the more practical nature of the programme, would suit her best. "It was more hands on, not just sitting in a lecture theatre, we were solving real on-the-job problems."
Chanel’s scholarship paid for her first year of study towards the three-year Bachelor of Information Technology. She says the Porirua campus was very welcoming, making it easy for her to settle into a tertiary environment. And she was only five minutes drive from home, the free parking was a welcome bonus!
Chanel can’t speak highly enough of the tutors at Whitireia. She says they were very friendly and always there when she needed them. "If you needed help you could approach them and they would spend the time with you, helping you understand the things you didn’t quite grasp." If students needed extra time working on the software, that wasn’t a problem either. "We could just pop into the back of a class where there were spare PCs. The set-up is really great."
Now she’s completed her degree, Chanel has moved easily into full-time employment as a service analyst for Bupa Care Services in Porirua. They employed her part-time while she was studying at Whitireia and expanded the role once her degree was complete. Getting a degree from Whitireia, she says, was definitely worthwhile. “It’s given me the experience I need to get out there and go in the direction I want to go.” Chanel’s plans for the future will see her step to the next level, where she has her sights set on becoming a systems analyst or business analyst. “These were the strength areas of my study and were the areas of study that I really enjoyed.”