It was a year of significant changes in 2012, with the acquisition of the Film School and Computer Power Plus, and the arrival at Whitireia of future chief executive Chris Gosling
The campus redevelopment plan at Porirua entered its next stage in January 2012 with construction beginning on what was then imaginatively called BP1. With a total footprint of around 3817 square metres and a cost of around $16.5 million, the building would house the Faculty of Health administration, classrooms and conference facilities, with laboratories and simulation suites to provide state-of-the art training to around 1000 nursing and paramedic students.
"This project has been a long time in the planning and seeing the work going on over the last few weeks and the blessing today shows the progress we are making," said chief executive Don Campbell. "We are about to embark on a building project that is going to create a campus of the future. We are replacing more than 40 prefabricated buildings with purpose built buildings that will be connected through learning streets to provide a modern educational learning environment and be very community focused."
"It is a significant build for Whitireia and for Porirua and a courageous decision by all involved to invest in building works of this nature at this time," said Roger Sowry, Whitireia council chair.
Further north, work had completed on another significant development for Whitireia, and the new Kāpiti campus on the corner of Kapiti Road and Milne Drive was opened in February.
Based in the old Mitre 10 building on the corner of Milne Drive and Kapiti Road, the previously single-level, open plan building with a footprint of 1085 square metres had been transformed into a state-of-the-art, 21st century learning environment at a cost of $3.5 million. Purpose-built facilities included a commercial kitchen, training restaurant, beauty salon, hairdressing salon, training cafe and bar, and outside, a climbing wall for outdoor adventure students. The new mezzanine floor housed the library, classrooms and computer suites.
With the new health building taking up a significant area of land along the western edge of the Porirua campus, Te Wānanga Māori relocated from their building Iti Rearea to a new home in the Business and Computing Centre (E Block). The tomokanga from Iti Rearea was installed facing the Atrium, while James Molnar’s series of large scale paintings, which had decorated its interior, were relocated to one of the classroom walls. Sliding glass partitions throughout the space were decorated with motifs also designed by James Molnar.
Called Te Manawa, the new space was blessed in June, with the tomokanga unveiled by James Molnar.
Susan Cauchi stood down as deputy chief executive after four years in the role and eleven years at Whitireia. She had been closely involved in a number of important developments at Whitireia, particularly around quality and academic systems, and the new External Evaluation and Review (EER) process in which Whitireia, as an early adopter, achieved top rankings. Susan Cauchi has also been prominent in the establishment of a Combined Academic Board with WelTec as part of the Students First strategic partnership developed during 2011.
In May, two deputy executive positions were filled with Chris Gosling appointed as Deputy Chief Executive (Operational) and Lawrence Arps as Deputy Chief Executive (Educational). Lawrence Arps had already been at Whitireia for 18 months, initially in an operational role and then with responsibility for faculties and educational delivery. Chris Gosling, on the other hand, had recently returned from Bahrain where he had acted as Chief Operating Officer in the establishment of a New Zealand-style polytechnic with responsibility for finance and administration, ICT services, facilities, student services and registry. As a chartered accountant, Chris Gosling brought strong finance and accounting skills to the executive team, which was seen as particularly useful in the tightening fiscal environment.
As a conclusion to the 25th birthday celebrations of the previous year, June saw the release of the book 25 Years: Leading and Illuminating. Produced and written by Steele Roberts Publishers, the book and its contents were based on interviews and research completed by Rebekah Burgess with the assistance of staff and students who happily contributed their Whitireia stories.
The launch of the book coincided with the annual dawn commemoration of the signing of te Tiriti o Waitangi by Ngāti Toa which that year was held at Takapūwāhia Marae.
"This book is a celebration of the last 25 years," said Don Campbell. "It celebrates the journey of Whitireia from its beginnings as Parumoana Community College in 1986. Through a combination of successful leadership, wonderful staff and a hugely supportive community Whitireia has, in this short quarter-century, grown to become one of this country’s leading polytechnics with an impressive list of achievements."
In July, Whitireia announced the acquisition of the New Zealand Film and Television School by Whitireia New Zealand Limited in an agreement that meant the Film School retained its brand and campus at 86 Vivian Street in Wellington City, as well as the one-year Certificate in Film and Television Production. Whitireia had a long history with film, offering occasional and usually short-lived programmes including Videotaping Skills for Women, with film maker Gaylene Preston in 1993, Toi Whakaata (a one-year introduction to television and video production for Māori and Pacific Island students run by tutor Tania Bristowe from Kāpiti in 1996), and the National Certificate in Film and Television, taught by Caroline McGrath from Prosser Street in the early 2000s.
Sima Urale was appointed head tutor and welcomed to the role by Whitireia and Film School staff and students at a cocktail function in September. A well-known and respected New Zealand filmmaker, she came with more than twenty years’ experience in the film and theatre industry, bringing a wealth of practical and academic knowledge. Fun fact: Sima Urale's brother, Bill, had studied on the earlier National Certificate in Film and Television at Whitireia back when he was known as Bran Muffin, a name less familiar than his later sobriquet of King Kapisi.
Anna Lovegrove may only be 20 but the third-year paramedic student at Whitireia has already seen more “nasty” things than most people her age. When she’s not studying at the Whitireia Porirua campus, she’s working as an intern for Wellington Free Ambulance. “I work four days on, and then on my four days off I study. Sleep is a luxury, it’s pretty full-on, you’ve just got to be good at time management.”
Between the two there’s little time left for herself, family and friends, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.“I’ve wanted to be a paramedic since I was 11 or 12 years old, I’ve always known that and I’m willing to put in the hard yards to be the best paramedic I can be.”
Miss Lovegrove enrolled in the Whitireia Bachelor of Health Science (Paramedic) programme straight from New Plymouth Girls' High School, because it worked closely with Wellington Free Ambulance. Lecturers are all practising paramedics, medical professionals or science specialists.
During the three-year course, students work shifts with Wellington Free Ambulance and have the chance to become interns.
“Whitireia has been fantastic, the degree programme is brilliant and the amount of time that we’ve spent on student placements has been fantastic,” says Miss Lovegrove.
“It really gets you into the service quite quickly and you build up so much skill and so much knowledge in such a short time, so by the time you get to your final year, it all comes together, it’s a really positive thing.”
The Whitireia Bachelor of Health Science (Paramedic) is a three-year, full-time programme offered from the Porirua campus. It is delivered in partnership with Wellington Free Ambulance.