Our History: 1987

The year 1997 saw two major developments at Parumoana, with a name change and an expansion of programme offerings

The name change saw a refinement of the official name of the institution with the replacement of the word 'college' with 'polytechnic,' differentiating Parumoana from secondary schools and embracing what was becoming an increasingly popular nomenclature in the landscape of New Zealand tertiary education. The expansion of programmes included new options in horticulture, hospitality, and various arts and communication streams, while the secretarial offerings were extended to include the then-emerging technology of word processors.

The beginning of Arts at Whitireia

As the portfolio of programmes offered by Parumoana began to grow beyond the two schools of Nursing and the broadly-encompassing General Studies, what would eventually become an arts faculty had its beginning with fledgeling offerings in visual arts and music. Both these areas embraced the founding ethos and values of the polytechnic, making those ideas a key component of their teaching for decades to come.

Craft Design

As early as 1985, visual arts education had been proposed as one of the potential offerings at the nascent institution, with the Evening Post reporting that at an early meeting, Education Department representative David Lawrence said a craft course was being considered, in addition to the primary nursing and bridging options. In 1986, the foundations were laid with a series of announcements in local media and the following year the programme was launched under the leadership of Anne Philbin. The Certificate in Craft Design incorporated much of the existing two-year whakairo programme run by the Maraeroa Carving School, including its focus on culture-based arts practice.

The Maraeroa Carving School, under the direction of Lou Kereopa, had been arguably the only source for tertiary level arts training in the Porirua area prior to the establishment of the craft design programme. Its incorporation into the polytechnic had enabled the institution to have arts graduates in its foundation year when whakairo students, who had started their studies two years prior, completed them under the banner of Parumoana.  The carving school provided not only a curriculum and ethos for the arts programme but also a template of interaction with local galleries and institutions. In 1982, students from Maraeroa created Te Ngārara o Peketua, an immense Ōamaru stone tuatara for the Porirua museum based in Takapūwāhia. Unveiled by the Hon. Manuera Benjamin Riwai Couch, then Minister of Māori Affairs, the tuatara would greet visitors to the Porirua Museum until the museum, and Te Ngārara o Peketua relocated to Pataka Art + Museum in 1998.

maeraroa tuataraTe Ngārara o Peketua at its current home, welcoming visitors to Pataka Art + Museum

At its inception, the craft design programme provided a broad range of disciplines and media, with a carving of wood and bone, loom weaving, creative knitting, sculpting, applique, clay work, flax work, and jewellery-making with both silver, copper and found objects. The certificate also covered business management for artists and by May, students were already confident enough in their arts management skills to curate an exhibition at Porirua Museum. Mounted by students Bindie Reddin and Debbie Powell as part of a two-week work experience module, Whakakai Koiwi featured the work of local carvers Steve Myhre, Owen Mapp, Sam Kaio, Hemi Wiki and the Maraeroa Carving School. Owen Mapp would go on to teach bone carving at Parumoana later that year, the beginning of a longstanding tutorial position in the art department.

Owen Mapp Early1990s

Owen Mapp at the Whitireia arts department in the early 1990s

The first eighteen students on the Certificate in Craft Design experienced a rather transient beginning to their studies, with little space available to them at the Porirua campus. Instead, they were immersed directly into the world of galleries and museums, with, in one case, harakeke being taught in morning classes by  Erenora Puketapu-Hetet at the National Museum's whare runanga; before the students returned to the Porirua campus for afternoon drawing and design sessions. "We've had to tailor the programme for portability," said Anne Philbin, noting that the hardship had helped build a unique spirit amongst the students. She was also grateful for the museum's generosity, "the museum has been extremely flexible and good to us to let us use the whare and the museum facilities for such a long time."

First Craft Design students 1987

Renowned weaver Erenora Puketapu-Hetet (right) with craft design students Debbie Powell, Whare Apunui and Ese Motusaga at the National Museum in Wellington

Later in the year, students from both the craft design certificate and Maraeroa Carving School combined forces for a three-week working hui. Aiming to change the appearance of the polytechnic, the hui saw the creation of flags, wall murals and two huge carvings, which were intended to be finished in time for the joint graduation of the two classes in 1988. Tutors Anne Philbin and Lou Kereopa were joined by artist-in-residence Michael Pearson, author of Michael Pearson's Traditional Knitting: Aran, Fair Isle and Fisher Ganseys, who directed the efforts and created a work of his own. Open days were also held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when the community, school classes and other groups were welcomed to visit and students were available to answer questions.

Reflecting on her time in the craft design programme, Bev Joan, a student from later in the 1990s, spoke of the enduring influence that programme leader Anne Philbin had had on the ethos of arts at Whitireia, and how her interpretation of the Whitireia philosophies had been central to what was created: "When Anne Philbin was setting up the Art Department in 1987 she had the idea that we look to our origins - from Māori, Pacific and Celtic perspectives. She left us the whānau concept. When we came here we were all family... We all draw from our origins, and it gives this place an identity." 


In August, music also took its first tentative steps with the introduction of an 18-week, full-time foundation course intended to provide new and established musicians with skills to advance their careers. Tutor George Packard was enthusiastic about the course and saw it as a chance to explore direction, traditional roots and career options in the company of other working musicians. As with the strong cultural philosophy that underpinned the craft design certificate and guided it in subsequent years, the vision that the polytechnic had for the arts was clear in the introduction of the music programme. It was explicitly described to Kapi Mana as the first step towards the creation of a School of Music and Performance as part of an overall cultural commitment to Porirua and the Kāpiti Coast.

Like their cousins in the visual arts, space at the Porirua campus was limited for the nascent music programme and so tutors George Packard and Pati Umaga taught the first 15 students across the road at the Elsdon Pavilion. With only one actual room available, bass lessons were taught in the changing rooms. The music programme would grow exponentially over the years, expanding to a three-year programme and eventually become one of the specialisations of the Bachelor of Applied Arts. Issues with space would also be assuaged with an expanding collection of music-focused classrooms at the Porirua campus, including what would become known as the Turoa Royal Music Centre, which opened in 1994.    

Beginnings of the library

Chanel White and Peter TapsellLibrarian Chanel White and Minister of Internal Affairs Peter Tapsell

What would eventually become a symbol of the growth of Whitireia when Te Kete Wānanga opened in 2005 had considerably more humble beginnings as, like everything in the early years at Parumoana, a room in a prefabricated building. The library often welcomed gifts of books to bolster its collection, as in March of 1987, when Minister of Internal Affairs Peter Tapsell presented nearly 100 books as a gift from the New Zealand Literary Fund.

The books were all recent entrants in book awards, including poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and production categories and were gratefully received by polytechnic librarian Chanel White. The minister said that he was heartened by the work done at the polytechnic, and particularly in the efforts being made to help those who had not succeeded at secondary school. 

In 1988, the library would find more substantial lodgings when it moved into one of the wings of the new administration block and was officially named the  Russell Marshall library. This would be the library's home for seventeen years, gradually outgrowing its location, until 2005 when as Te Wakahuia it became part of the Learning Centre Te Kete Wānanga.

First LibraryA glimpse of the Porirua campus library in its humble early years

In the news

Community education
Kapi Mana 03.02.1987

Community education activities expanded at a rapid pace during the polytechnic’s first year. Over 100 courses and seminars were held in 1986, and 85 tutors taught more than 2500 hours. Student enrolments totalled over 1200. Work-related skills, promotion of cultural traditions, personal growth and development and leisure activities provided the major focus for classes. Journalism for Beginners, Teeline Shorthand, Basic Computer Skills were examples of work-related courses. Two of those, Comprehensive First Aid and Basic Electrical Wiring, have nationally recognised certificates.

Māori cultural traditions were promoted with a large number of classes in language and crafts in response to demands from the community and government agencies. The recent establishment of the Pacific Islands Advisory Committee will ensure the further development of courses on the cultural traditions of these ethnic minorities in 1987.

Craft course underway
Kapi Mana 10.02.1987

Students from Parumoana Polytechnic's new Crafts Design Certificate Course went to Wellington last Thursday to enrol as Crafts Council members.

Parumoana reports a full class with a waiting list for the course. The class is well balanced for age as well as sex and features a majority of Māori and Pacific Island artists. During orientation week, aspects of professionalism, learning techniques and cultural directions were explored, culminating in a day's visit to Wellington cultural institutions. This week the class begins extensive work at the National Museum in weaving with Erenora Puketapu-Hetet. Yesterday morning, students were at Waiwhetu Marae in Lower Hutt.

Parumoana opportunities expand
Te Awa-iti 20.02.198

Crafts, tourism and landscaping are among the courses offered at Porirua’s Parumoana Community Polytechnic this year. The crafting course incorporates the two-year Māori carving course previously housed at Waitangirua. Working with bone, stone and wood in both traditional and contemporary styles will be the first year for a two-year full-time crafts design certificate course. Fifteen have so far enrolled for the course, which also includes Māori language and business administration. Other skills offered included paintwork, pottery and jewellery making. In the second year, the students specialise in two crafts of their choice.

An eighteen-week course in basic horticulture and landscaping is designed for 15 more mature students, some of whom may move on from the now-defunct PEP schemes. The aim is to make them better able to compete on the open job market. The new tourism/hospitality course begins in April and runs for a year, teaching 15 students the basic skills of catering for tourists. The curriculum includes personal grooming and basic languages along with the skills for working in the tourist hotel business.

$30 Thousand Licensing Trust Scholarship Fund
Te Awa-iti 10.04.1987

The Porirua Licensing Trust has openly challenged other firms and organisations to participate in the recently set up Porirua Licensing Trust and Parumoana Community Polytechnic Scholarship Fund. The Fund, worth $30,000 will be administered by a Trust which will include the General Manager of the PLT and two board members, Eric McKenzie and Barbara Brooks. Also included is Parumoana Polytechnic Director Turoa Royal and two unnamed Polytechnic officials.

The Fund is designed to give assistance to students or would-be students of the community polytechnic who are living within the Porirua basin and the area served by the Licensing Trust. Such budgeting assistance would be considered by application to the Trust Fund Board. Board Chairman Jim Gray told Te Awa-iti that the Licensing Trust "has always been keen to help where possible toward making available educational opportunities." He said this particular Scholarship Fund had been an ongoing project for over two years.

Tourism industry training at Parumoana
Kapi Mana 07.04.1987

Parumoana Community Polytechnic is running a course designed to give students basic training and understanding of the skills and knowledge required for employment in the hospitality industry. Subjects include basic training in food and wine service, housekeeping, food handling and people skills. Other topics to be included are office skills, computer awareness, communication skills and cultural aspects of tourism and hospitality.

The polytech hopes work experience in the industry will give students "hands-on" grounding in different avenues available in the industry. The course is also designed to help students wishing to go on to further training.

Word processing skills course at Parumoana
Kapi Mana 07.04.1987

Word processors are taking the business world by storm. The old days of plodding away on a typewriter, messy carbon copies, erasers, Twink and retypes are fast disappearing. With the coming of word processors, routine office procedures have been revolutionised. Typists are not all being replaced by the new technology but are still in demand. With the aid of a word processor, routine typing tasks are no longer dull, tedious or repetitive. Word processors can be used to produce perfect results of the same document an unlimited number of times or to update drafts until the final version is accepted without retyping the whole document.

Typist finds the conversion to a word processor a natural extension of their typing skills. With a minimum of training, they can learn the basic operation of a word processor and be on the way to becoming indispensable in the business world. 

Parumoana Community Polytech has recognised the need to train people in word processing skills and runs day and evening classes for beginners and advanced students. It only takes a few hours and operators are on the way to being part of the exciting new technological revolution.

Media studies course at Parumoana
Kapi Mana 24.11.1987

A course in Media Studies starts at Parumoana Community College on February 15. It will cover writing news stories and features, taking photos, writing ads, interviewing on the college's lunchtime radio station, making radio commercials, and being a jock. Media Studies will give 18 students an opportunity to learn the skills necessary to run a lunchtime radio station and produce three issues of a local college magazine.

Tutor Adriann Smith has high hopes for the course. She says there is an upsurge of interest in local radio. Radio Ruatoria is on-air, Te Upoko o te Ika is gearing up for 10 months' broadcasting in the Wellington region next year, and two groups want to start a local station in the Hutt Valley. Radio New Zealand and private radio need staff; so do local and national papers. When they have completed the course, students will have skills to work in established radio and newspapers. They will have a portfolio of work including tapes of their radio station and issues of their own magazine to show to prospective employers.   

Adriann Smith comes to Parumoana from Radio New Zealand where she has been a producer for Morning Report, an interviewer for National Morning and a documentary maker. Her work includes a series on protest - "Getting Involved - People, Power, Politics and Protest" and last year's anti-racism series "Beyond Guilt."