Over the years, international enrolments at Whitireia would continue to grow and become a significant area of attention, ultimately leading to the international-focused Auckland campus in 2002. The year also saw the introduction of still more programmes to the burgeoning portfolio, with new offerings in performing arts, professional cookery, automotive engineering, computing as well as a postgraduate certificate in psychiatric care and a New Zealand Nanny Certificate.
The nascent Whitireia Performing Arts programme hit the ground running following advertisements in local promises that emphasised a core approach and philosophy that would persist through the years: "modern dance technique, composition, choreography... exploration in both contemporary and traditional forms, with special emphasis on the culture and dance forms of the Māori and Pacific Islands." By the end of the year, the programme was establishing what would be a long relationship with local communities when they performed as part of the Mana Artfest to mark the opening of the cultural centre on Norrie Street that included the Page 90 art gallery space and the recently relocated Porirua Public Library.
A new building, which houses the trade certificate cookery course, the tourism and hospitality course and the restaurant, was opened in March. The new facility meant that the syllabus for the two courses could be greatly expanded says supervisor Kristina Caskey. The training was previously carried out in a small classroom. "We used to cater for 20 people, now we can cope with 48," Ms Caskey said.
Open to the public for lunch every Monday, the restaurant has proved popular with many groups including Lions clubs, small social groups and staff. Although it was a training institution and couldn't operate commercially, the polytechnic was looking to extend the restaurant's opening hours, Ms Caskey said.
Art, craft and culture now have a permanent home in Porirua with the opening of the city's long-awaited cultural centre. There had been a demand for the centre since the 1980s, Mana community arts officer David Naylor said. The development "is a very positive thing for a city with positive people."
The Norrie Street building houses the city's relocated library and genealogical research centre, the Page 90 art gallery, space for the performing arts, and offices. Room for an arts and craft and coffee shop has also been allocated and there are plans for a 500 seat theatre.
To celebrate this week's opening, a two-week Mana Artfest has begun, featuring about 120 local artists and craft people. Poets and writers, such as Patricia Grace, will give readings. Jazz, choral singing, and classical music and dance will be performed. Leading New Zealand artist Robyn Kahukiwa will show her work alongside that of Rob Taylor, Elinor Ginn and others.
The Whitireia Performing Arts Company perform at the grand opening of the cultural centre