Our History: 1986

Students proved eager to learn at Parumoana Community College with classes beginning a full month before the official opening on 15 March 1986 when over a thousand people met to celebrate the beginning of something truly significant for Porirua

With the incredibly short lead-in time before classes started in February, some of the furniture and equipment only arrived on the same day as the students, and in some cases, after classes had started. The college council, under the chairmanship of Tino Meleisea, and foundation principal Turoa Royal had worked incredibly hard in a very tight time-frame to ensure the college could start running classes in February, and staff and students were beginning to settle in by the date of the opening.

Governor-General Paul Reeves welcomed to Parumoana

Governor-General Paul Reeves welcomed to Parumoana Community College

The Opening

The opening began with Ngāti Toa kaumātua Wāra Katene conducting a dawn dedication ceremony and tapu lifting under, as Turoa Royal poetically described it, the diminishing brightness of Halley's Comet. The 250 people in attendance walked silently around and inside the existing buildings before a short breakfast and church service as the sun began to rise. The Governor-General, Sir Paul Reeves, and other visiting dignitaries and guests arrived at 10 am, with the numbers in attendance swelling to 1200-1500 for the official ceremony. A welcome was provided by Mareaeroa Marae, with karanga by Harata Solomon and Taukiri Thomason, followed by speeches from Wāra Katene, Porirua mayor John Burke, council chair Tino Meleisea, and Education Minister Russell Marshall. Sir Paul spoke to the crowd and said that he saw the college as a source of learning, adding that it would bring the community together. After his speech, the Governor-General unveiled a plaque carved by whakairo tutor Lou Kereopa, which represented the cultural values the college hoped to promote – excellence, endeavour, social concern, training and vocation. A tukutuku panel gifted to the college by Maraeroa Marae was also unveiled.

Mr Royal said that the opening heralded a new development in education in the Porirua basin and Kāpiti Coast, namely greater access to continuing education for the community. Following the formalities, guests were taken on a tour of the campus, before a celebration hākari was held and an afternoon of entertainment got underway. Various cultural groups performed, with Tongan,  Cook Island, Tokelauan, Samoan, Dutch and Scottish country dancers taking to the stage, along with the Wellington High School rock band. The kai for the hākari spoke to the level of community involvement, with a hangi laid at Maraeroa Marae, while people from Takapūwāhia Marae, Pacific Island communities and local businesses peeled potatoes, sliced bread and brought vegetables from their own gardens. "The staff are still commenting with gratitude on the mountains of food that arrived by the trailer load," said Turoa Royal.

Polytech Opening with Council members performing a waiata

Council members perform a waiata including Rev Geoffrey Walpole, Taukiri Thomason, Peggy Liddell, Patricia Grace, Jasmine Underhill, Richard Mayson, Anne MacGregor, Tino Meleisea, Turoa Royal, Ioane Teao.

Part-time community courses

In addition to programmes such as the flagship Diploma in Nursing, Parumoana emphasised the community college part of the name with a range of part-time community courses. While these included subjects that would eventually grow into full-fledged Whitireia programmes, some even attaining degree level,  others never achieved this lofty goal. At the Porirua campus, five-week courses were offered in Microwave Cooking and the surprisingly popular Overcoming Shyness, which had both afternoon and evening sessions, while ten weeks could be spent learning Basic Gardening. Two long-standing Whitireia programmes, Journalism and Creative Writing, on the other hand, had their beginnings as Journalism for Beginners and both Beginning and Intermediate options in Creative Writing.

Due to limited space, some community courses were offered off-site at local schools and churches. Porirua College provided one popular location, with options in Basic Computer Skills (Appleworks), Introduction to Keyboarding Skills, Introduction to Drama, Improving Your Sewing Skills, Cook Islands Māori Language and Culture, Introductory Accounting, Intermediate Conversational Māori and the perennial favourite, Basic Gardening. The Titahi Bay Baptist Hall played host to Beginner Guitar (creche provided, it should be noted), while an Introduction to Māori Bone Carving was on offer at both Titahi Bay Intermediate School and Maraeroa Carving School in Waitangirua.

brochures 1986Programme brochures from 1986

First Council

The first council for Parumoana Community Polytech illustrated the investment felt by many in the community for the new institution. Gerald Aitken, Regional Superintendent of Education, recalled that at a public meeting to establish the council, about fifty or sixty groups and individuals spoke: "I think it was one of the most exciting things I ever did as Regional Superintendent, to get all those different people together, to make them feel they had an opportunity and a right to say what they wanted with this community college. And they all did."

The final council provided representation from the local councils of Porirua, Kāpiti and Tawa; Cook Island, Samoan and Tokelauan communities; Ngāti Toa and the Māori Women's Welfare League;  Takapūwāhia, Maraeroa, Whakarongotai and Hongoeka marae; the local Nurses' Association and Hospital Board; secondary school boards from Porirua and Kāpiti;  the Porirua Business Development Council and Employer's Association; along with Parumoana principal, staff and student representatives. Tino Meleisea, a Labour Department executive officer, was elected chair, with Richard Mayson as deputy.

First Whitireia Council, 1985-1986

 Parumoana Community Polytechnic Council 1985-1986. Third row: Jan Watkins, Ioane Semu Teao, Harry Walker, Neil McDonald, Roger Bradshaw, Noeline Bubendorfer. Second row: Diana Goss, Roy Mitchell, Ed Smith, H Solomon, Robert Jaquiery, Rev Geoffrey Walpole, Anne MacGregor. Front row: Margaret Faulkner, Jasmine Underhill, Tino Meleisea (council chair), Turoa Royal (principal), Taukiri Thomason, Peggy Liddel. Absent: Patricia Grace, Richard Mayson, David Oughton, Winham Hammond.

First graduation

At the end of its inaugural year, Parumoana Community College was able to celebrate its success with a graduation as the first students completed their courses and prepared to pursue careers or go on to further training. The graduation was combined with a dinner and dance event held at Todd Park on Friday 21 November. Graduates came from the Secretarial, Office Assistant and Refresher/Retraining classes of the Business Studies Department, the Foundation Course for health-related careers, and the Maraeroa Carving School, whose students had begun their two years of studies a year prior to the founding of the polytechnic. Guests of honour for the evening were the Speaker of the House the Hon. Dr Gerard Wall, the Hon. Margaret Shields (Minister of Customs), and the Hon. Russell Marshall (Minister of Education).

Foundation Year Staff


By the end of its inaugural year in 1986, Parumoana Community College had developed a significant foundation year staff that encompassed support areas, the two academic departments of Nursing and General Studies, as well as the outlier locations of Prosser Street, Champion Street in Cannons Creek, the Porirua Language Project and the Maraeroa Carving School. In his annual report to council from August of that year, council chair Tino Meleisea was able to report that 78 staff were employed, 73% female and 27% male, representing a number of ethnic groups: Māori, Pakeha, Tongan, Thai and Vietnamese.   



Principal Turoa Royal
Deputy Principal Majorie Truong


Noeline Bubendorfer
Helen Aviss                                       
Karen McCoy                                
Elizabeth Mann                             
Phil Shepherd                                
Del Te Kiri                                           
Ema Yandall                                       


Principal's secretary
Deputy Registrar
Property Assistant
Administration Officer


Sally Ansley
Stephen Carroll
Elaine Needham
Chanel White


Student Counsellor
Computer Manager
Student Nurse

General Studies

Linda Baylis
Alison Bell
Stephen Bright
Trish Brimblecombe
Val Collins
Sally Drewitt
Valeti Finau
Fay Harrison
Dale Hartle
Denise Joyce
Piki Kereama
Anne MacGregor
Barbara Marshall
Rangi Nicholson
Anne Philbin
Mary Rose Royal
Long Truong
Jan Watkins


Secretarial Studies Tutor
Secretarial Studies Tutor
YPTP/TAPS Co-ordinator
Secretarial Studies Tutor
Maori Liaison/Bridging Tutor
Secretarial Studies Tutor
Pacific Island Liaison Tutor
Secretarial Studies Tutor
Secretarial Studies Tutor
HOD's Secretary
Maori Language Tutor

Community Studies Co-ordinator
Maori Liaison Tutor
Art/Craft Course Supervisor
Bridging Course Supervisor/Tutor
Bridging Tutor
Course Supervisor - Secretarial Studies

Nursing Studies Department

Jeanette Page
Lisa Bergantino
Sue Jamieson
Ed Smith
Pene Smith
Jean Sneddon
Margaret Southwick
Shirley Wilson


Head of Department
Science Technician
Nursing Tutor
Nursing Tutor
Nursing Tutor
HOD's Secretary
Nursing Tutor
Nursing Tutor

Prosser Street Staff

Jenny Pender
John Callaghan
Jillian Humphries
Peter Robinson
Fay Stradling


Course Supervisor
Metalwork/Welding Tutor
Food Handling Tutor
Retailing/Carpentry Tutor
Typing/Office Assistants Tutor

Champion Street Staff

Roger Armstrong
Garth Baker
Simon Blackiston
Felicity Newton
Ngapera O'Carroll
George Packard


English for Immigrants - Adult Retraining Programme
Communications Skills
Communications Skills
English for Immigrants - Adult Retraining Programme
Communications Skills
Communications Skills

Porirua Language Project

Sue Elliott
Margaret Collinge


Maraeroa Carving School

Lou Kereopa



Joan Solomon


Caretaking/Cleaning Staff

Carl Hakaria
Robbie Kahukaka
Owen Mahoney




Early Whitireia Staff Group Photo

Early Whitireia Staff. Back row: unidentified, Shirley Wilson, Elizabeth Mann, Jean Sneddon, Ngapera O'Carroll, Julia Hennessy, Trish O'Keefe, Karen McCoy, Elaine Needham. Fourth row: Anne MacGregor, Margot Mains, Gael Mearns, Carl Hakaria, Dale Hartle, Sally Ansley, Fay Harrison, Stephen Carroll, Barbara Wesney, Jackie McKinlay, Chanel White, Jan Morrison, Ann Porteners, Irihapeti Ramsden, Fay Stradling. Third row: Valeti Finau, Val Collins, Garth Baker, Trish Brimblecombe, Peter Robinson, Owen Mahoney, Alison Bell, Eddie Smith, Roger Armstrong, Piki Kereama, Phil Shepherd, Rangi Nicholson, Terry Gardiner, Jimmy Wiki, John Hinton, unidentified, Ema Yandell. Second row: Lou Kereopa, Anne Philbin, Jan Watkins, Stephen Bright, Marjorie Truong, Turoa Royal, Noeline Bubendorfer, Thana na Nagara, Jeanette Page, Sue Elliot, Long Truong, Mary-Rose Royal, Helen Aviss. Front row: Barbara Marshall, Joan Solomon, Sue Jamieson, Denise Joyce, Ann Coleman, unidentified, Pam Mason, Sarah Hardman, Del Te Kiri, Pene Smith, Jillian Humphries, unidentified.



In the news

Turoa Royal comes home
The Evening Post 24.01.1986

The days until the doors of Porirua’s new community college, Parumoana swung open to the public are not long enough for Turoa Royal. There is much to do – meetings, organisation, paperwork. But through all the hustle and bustle, the sense of excitement and deep commitment to the success of Porirua’s newest educational amenity is obvious. Turoa Royal, as principal of the new college, will soon be putting into practise ideas and suggestions which have been bounced around Porirua for more than 20 years. And the man who, as a child, wanted to emulate his father and become a dairy farmer, is relishing the thought.

"There is a concept in Maoridom where, if you have been helped in the past to develop your skills and qualifications, there comes a time in your life when you pay it back. And that is what I am doing." 

Te Manu Korero
Kapi Mana 28.01.1986

Waitangirua Intermediate School’s longest-serving teacher, Val Collins of Ranui Heights, has left to join the foundation staff of Parumoana Community College. She is to be a tutor on a course for people interested in a health-related career, and will also liaise between the college and Māori and Pacific Island people, finding out what they want and making them aware of what it could offer. A pakeha with a deep interest and involvement in all things Maori, she was raised in Wellington, trained as a teacher and after a period overseas, joined Maraeroa School when it opened in 1967.

Secretarial students First Day 1986New secretarial students, including Brenda Archibald, Michelle O’Sullivan and Monique Robbers

College open for business
The Evening Post 10.02.1986

Classes at Porirua’s new Parumoana Community College began today as 60 secretarial students enrolled, met their tutors, and got to know each other. Included in the group of new students were Brenda Archibald, Michelle O’Sullivan and Monique Robbers.

Secretarial school supervisor Mrs Jan Watkins said the 60 students had enrolled for either one year of secretarial studies, an 18-week office assistant course, or a 16-week refresher-retraining course.

The college's 48-student nursing course begins tomorrow, and a foundation course which will prepare students for formal tertiary education starts next week. The college will be officially opened by the Governor-General, Sir Paul Reeves, on March 15.

Improving their English
Kapi Mana 21.02.1986

Thirteen Samoan people were improving their English skills under a Labour Department-funded scheme in Porirua. The ESL training assistance programme became part of the Parumoana Community College but is still based on Champion Street. Students usually come from any of the Pacific Islands as well as South-East Asia and Europe; this term, as a coincidence, they're all from Samoa. The 12-week course is designed to improve language skills to make job searching easier and will lead to the department's new Access programme.

The Samoan students have given their own name to their course: O Tama ma Teine Aoga ole Faauae o Parumoana Community College.

Governor-General Opens Porirua’s newest college
The Evening Post 15.03.1986

Porirua’s Parumoana Community College was officially opened by the Governor-General, Sir Paul Reeves, today.

The opening began with a dawn dedication ceremony and tapu lifting by local Ngati Toa elders. Sir Paul and Lady Reeves, and other dignitaries from outside the college’s catchment – Waikanae to Tawa – received a traditional Māori welcome on to the Wineera Drive college site just after 10 am.

Sir Paul told the 500-strong audience that he hoped the college’s facilities would soon look a bit used and perhaps a little dirty. “Not because people want to vandalise them, but because people are using them and because they see these buildings as a source of learning and a place where they can feel at rest.” The college, Sir Paul said, could bring the community together. "Because when we talk about a community we talk about the things we have in common, from our heritages, cultures, experiences and needs."

After Sir Paul spoke a church service was held, with readings and hymns from the different cultures represented at the college. The Governor-General then unveiled a specially carved plaque, the work of carving instructor Lou Kereopa, which represented the cultural values the college wished to promote. They include excellence, endeavour, social concern, training and vocation.

Guests inspected the college and a celebration feast was held. It was to be followed by entertainment by 12 different groups from throughout Porirua.  

tukutukupanel 1996

 Turoa Royal with Theresa Stevens and Katrina Haenga

Tukutuku panel for Parumoana
Kapi Mana 29.04.1986

The people of Maraeroa Marae presented Parumoana Community College with a tukutuku panel whose meaning is “ability, strength and achievement”. It was made by trainees on the tukutuku weaving course run at the Marae under the Kokiri Basic Skills programme. It was presented on April 18th 1986 with a full-scale powhiri and blessed by Father Hemi Harwood.

Accepting the taonga, college principal Turoa Royal said the panel forged the relationship between the college and the marae and would enter college history as another link in the close tie shared by the two.

The tukutuku panel hangs outside Mr Royal's office at Parumoana Community College. With him are weaving course tutor-supervisor Theresa Stevens and trainee Katrina Haenga. Others on the course who helped in the work are Kim Wimutu and Sandra Coake, while Pauline Johnson drafted the pattern. The framing was the work of students at Maraeroa Carving School.

Community College or Community Polytechnic
Te Awa Iti 04.05.1986 by Turoa Royal

One issue that is exercising the minds of Parumoana Community College Council members is the question of the words “community college”. The Education Act of 1964 set up tertiary institutions and the Act refers to Technical Institutes, as if they were the same, and any difference was in the main by the way of emphasis, e.g.Community Colleges have intentionally built in more rural areas so they are expected to provide courses off-campus as well as on-site.

The Chairman of the Council, Mr Tino Meleisea, in his address at the opening ceremony, made the point that the words “community college” presented some confusion in the community. Some people believe that Parumoana Community College is an alternative secondary school and others have considered the college as a university under another name. He went further to suggest that a change in name may be necessary. He indicated in the same address that perhaps we should be called Parumoana Community Polytechnic. He believes that the word "community" should be kept as a method by which the College could be reminded continually of its special focus.

First steps in being journalists
Kapi Mana 20.05.1986

A five-day introductory course on journalism is being held at Parumoana Community College this week. Mr Philip Whaanga, the editor of the Tu Tangata magazine, is course supervisor. "I've done these courses before and found them more enjoyable than being an editor," he said.

The idea of the course is to introduce more Māori and Polynesians into journalism. Students will be taught the basic skills of journalism and be given the opportunity to see what it is like to work in a newspaper, on television or in a radio studio. Mr Whaanga said there was no trouble in filling the places for the course. There are 15 students aged between 17-40. Most are from Porirua but two are from Upper Hutt. He also said Parumoana Community College hopes to hold a full-time journalism course next year.

Applicants sought for craft course
Kapi Mana 19.08.1986

Polynesia will be the focus of a certificate in Crafts Design course at Parumoana Community College starting next February. The two-year course will be open to Polynesian students of all ages. Applications for the initial intake of 18 students are now being received.

"We are looking for talent, and a willingness to undertake a full-time course," says Anne Philbin, crafts development tutor. The course would tap the wealth of Polynesian talent in Porirua, she said and help students "become enriched in their culture." Apart from learning arts such as printmaking, weaving and bone, shell and wood carving, students will learn the Māori language and go on to learn other cultural aspects if they wish. Business management will also be part of the course, which teaches the art of money management.  

Civil Defence Course
Kapi Mana 10.06.1986

Porirua Civil Defence held a one-day course for first-year nursing students at Parumoana College. Civil defence officer, Greg Crewley, said it was successful and would become an annual event for first-year students. Further contact with civil defence is a possibility for third-year students, of which there are of course none yet at the college.

Link Courses for Secondary Schools
Te Awa Iti 12.11.1986

In September of this year, the Government approved funding for the expansion of the Link Programmes to include Technical Institutes and Community colleges not as yet providing these programmes. Parumoana Community Polytechnic was one of the institutions granted funds to begin such courses working with students from the secondary schools within the Polytechnic catchment area. The aim of Link Programmes was to assist secondary school students in their transition from school to working life or further education, and also to provide alternative vocational study options in a tertiary environment.

As a beginning, Parumoana is running two three-day courses for fifth and sixth form pupils in Health Studies in November and December this year. The aim of this course is to become more familiar with the career options that exist in the health field. Students will be introduced to health careers such as nursing, occupational therapy, school dental nursing, and many other careers. There will be speakers from these professions, visits where possible to see some of these workers at their jobs, and detailed information on qualifications needed to enter health professions, courses of study, costs, availability of bursaries, etc. The course will also be an introduction to Parumoana Community Polytechnic for these students, giving them a taste of polytechnic life in the hope that they will return to Parumoana as students in the future.

Maraeroa Carving School graduates

Maraeroa Carving School graduates, from front to rear: Rangi Kipa (Waitara), Awatea Edwin (Timaru), Larry Paurini (Turangi), Mark Apanui (Gisborne), Peter Kautai (Rotorua), Manaia Mackie (Kaikoura) and Patrice Grace (Plimmerton)

Evening Post 24.11.1986

Two years of carving tuition ended in Porirua on Friday when seven men graduated from the Maraeroa Carving School. The carvers from front to rear, are Rangi Kipa (Waitara), Awatea Edwin (Timaru), Larry Paurini (Turangi), Mark Apanui (Gisborne), Peter Kautai (Rotorua), Manaia Mackie (Kaikoura) and Patrice Grace (Plimmerton).

Carving tutor Lou Kereopa instructed the class, which is part of Parumoana Community Polytechnic but based at Maraeroa Marae. The course included instruction on business management and culture, as well as carving.

Several of the carvers hope to form a co-operative and work on new meetinghouses throughout the country.

Tech course lauded
Evening Post 24.11.1986

Parumoana Community Polytechnic’s health science bridging course – the first of its kind in New Zealand – has been a great success, says supervisor Mary-Rose Royal. The bridging foundation course was introduced when the Porirua Polytechnic opened earlier this year, and the first-class graduated on Friday. Of 20 students, 14 had been accepted for health science courses throughout the country. Most will begin nursing training next year, some are to train as dental nurses and three as occupational therapists.

The course is aimed at helping people not meeting the criteria needed to enter other health training courses or establishments. It is full-time for one year, and the curriculum includes English, mathematics, chemistry, biology and related studies such as Taha Maori and computer studies. The course is funded by the Education Department, and this year's students were school leavers, most with three years secondary education, or people who had been working for a few years, Mrs Royal said.

Parumoana Graduation Ceremony
Te Awa-iti 28.11.1986 by Val Collins

Parumoana has completed its first year. The first students finished their courses and left to pursue their careers or to go on to further training. To celebrate the end of the successful first year, a Graduation Dine and Dance were held at Todd Park on Friday 21 November. Graduates receiving certificates came from the Secretarial, Office Assistant and Refresher/Retraining classes of the Business Studies Department for the Foundation Course for health-related Careers and the Maraeroa Carving school. Guests of honour for the evening were the Hon. Dr G. Wall, Speaker of the House, the Hon. Margaret Shields, Minister of Customs and the Hon. Russell Marshall, Minister of Education.

Foundation year completed
Te Awa-iti 19.12.1986 by Turoa Royal

Parumoana Community Polytechnic completed one year of operations. They experienced a very busy and hectic year setting up buildings, courses and staff appointments, furniture and equipment. The staff had to develop at the same time administrative systems that would enable the Polytechnic to function.

The Polytechnic has come a long way since December 1985 when the buildings on the main campus were represented by a few holes in the ground and a number of unclad wooden frames. Yet six weeks later the Nursing Department began teaching along with the Carving School, the Secretarial Studies, the Bridging Course, the Labour Department Training Assistance Programmes and the Community Classes.