Our History: 1996

1996 was a significant year for Whitireia, marking the end of the institution's first decade, and the establishment of the first permanent campus in Kāpiti

But the year also saw the departure of Turoa Royal, who retired after ten years as principal, director and chief executive. In a decade, Whitireia had grown to such an extent that around 1500 full-time students (and as many part-time students) were now enrolled, and the polytechnic had become an integral part of Porirua City. Deputy Chief Executive Officer Deirdre Dale noted that the growth had exceeded all expectations, adding that it had grown faster than any other New Zealand polytechnic over the same period and that Whitireia had "remained accessible to people from all walks of life, served the needs of this community, and the success rates have been high."

Whitireia Staff Photo 1996Whitireia staff from around 1996

The end of an era

During the planning of the Whitireia ten year celebrations, Turoa Royal came to the realisation that the anniversary would not only mark the end of one chapter and the start of another for the polytechnic but would do the same for him personally. He had been the institution's founding principal, a position later re-titled chief executive officer, taking the helm of what was then Parumoana Community College in 1986. Of Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Raukawa descent, he took up the role at the urging of Education Minister Russell Marshall, leaving behind his job as principal of Wellington High School, where he had turned ‘a wilted totara’ into ‘growing totara with green leaves and strong branches.’

As the first Māori chief executive of a polytechnic, he had guided Whitireia through a period of incredible growth and change, taking the institution from 140 students in 1986 to around 3000 in 1996. In addition to the 3000 total students, Whitireia was now also home to 362 employees, including 109 full-time and 115 part-time tutors, and 138 management and support staff, making it the biggest employer in Porirua. Turoa Royal’s philosophy had been to ensure Whitireia did things "differently but well," and at his farewell, Porirua MP Graham Kelly claimed that his approach provided "a lesson for us all."

Turoa Royal getting hands on with the Whitireia tractorTuroa Royal showing his hands-on approach with the Whitireia tractor

Founding Whitireia Council chair Tino Meleisea said Turoa Royal had made Whitireia "the best thing that’s ever happened in the region," and noted that there would be "a big hole left when he goes." However, it was Turoa Royal’s belief that chief executives of government departments or educational institutions should not stay too long in the job. "In my view, we have completed a particular goal that we set ourselves ten years ago," he said. "Some very exciting things have happened here... Many of the structures and systems are in place and it's time to bring new energy, ideas and visions to the polytechnic."

Turoa Royal's retirement was not the only significant departure of 1996 with Tino Meleisea also stepping down as council chair and being replaced by Margaret Faulkner. He was officially farewelled in a ceremony in March 1997, held in the recently opened fale in the Visual Arts department, where Whitireia staff gifted him a painting by student Levi Salamasina-Mapiva, and the Samoan community gave him fine mats.

Tino Meleisea Farewell GiftDeirdre Dale jokes with Tino Meleisia as he is gifted a Levi Salamasina-Mapiva painting from Whitireia staff

Reflecting years later on the crucial role that Tino Meleisea had played during the first decade of Whitireia, Turoa Royal said: "Tino was a man of humility and yet of stature... He had a number of leadership qualities, the source of which was his work experience and his belief in the need for the polytechnic to exhibit and reflect the multicultural nature of the community. As chair of the council, he encouraged us to greet each other in the different languages used in the community. Those greetings are still prominent and still used." 

Mats for Tino MeleiseaTino Meleisia being presented with fine mats as a farewell gift from the Samoan community

Celebrating ten years of Whitireia

Celebrations for the tenth anniversary featured a number of events, including a six-part Summer Lecture Series called 'One National, Two Partners, Many Peoples,' featuring guest speakers Dr Pauline Kingi, Professor Ranginui Walker, Sir Kenneth Keith of the Law Commission, Professor Joan Metge, and Le Mamea Sefulu Ioane.

As the conclusion to the series, a political forum saw MPs Winston Peters (NZ First party leader), David Caygill (Labour party deputy leader), John Luxton (Minister for Māori Affairs), Clive Mathewson (United NZ party leader) and Jim Anderton (Alliance party leader) gather to discuss the Treaty. The celebrations also saw the opening of the Kāpiti campus at Lindale, the launch of the Friends of Whitireia Association, and the release of the book Whitireia Conversations: Our First Ten Years


Turoa Royal and Margaret Faulkner with MPs ​​John Luxton, Clive Mathewson, Jim Anderton, David Caygill and Winston Peters

The celebrations concluded on Saturday 16 March with a dinner at Mitsubishi Motors, Todd Park, to which members of the public were invited to attend for a small fee. Entertainment was provided by guest speaker, poet Sam Hunt, and Whitireia Performing Arts students.

10th Birthday celebration with Bob Cater and Jenny Brash

Bob Cater (head of the Whitireia School of Arts ) and Jenny Brash (Northern Ward councillor)


10th Birthday celebration Turoa Royal, Tino Meleisea and Margaret Faulkner

Turoa Royal speaks as Tino Meleisea and Margaret Faulkner cut the somewhat humble tenth birthday cake


10th Birthday celebration Performing Arts

Performing Arts students entertain the guests at the tenth birthday dinner

Whitireia Conversations

A permanent record of the first ten years of Whitireia was provided by the book Whitireia Conversations: Our First Ten Years 1986 - 1996. Subtitled He Whakawawhitinga Korero, Mo Nga Tau Tekau, it was compiled and edited by Adrienne Jansen and Tracey Scadden and brought together recollections by Whitireia staff and students, recorded by the students of the Creative Writing programme. The book divided itself and the story of Whitireia into three parts: Nga Pu... The Roots, Nga Taketake... The Trunk and the Branches, and Nga Hua... The Next Season's Fruit.

In the penultimate entry, Turoa Royal discussed what he imagined and hoped for Whitireia in the future: "I hope that the polytechnic will always maintain the view that education is not just about knowledge, but that it is about the relationship between the individual and the community. It must maintain and encourage the full potential of the individual, and yet at the same time encourage citizenship and participation in the community." 

whitireia coversations coverThe cover of Whitireia Conversations: Our First Ten Years 1986 - 1996

In the news

Elders bless new campus
Kapiti Mail 25.01.1996, by Amanda Weatherley

Te Kura Matatini O Whitireia also known as Whitireia Community Polytechnic had its new campus at Lindale blessed by the elders of the tangata whenua, Te Atiawa Ki Whakarongotai, at an early Saturday morning ceremony. Whitireia chief executive officer Turoa K Royal (Ngāti Raukawa/Ngāti Toa Rangatira) familiarised the local elders with the different sections of the almost finished structure. The walls reverberated with karakia as the kaumātuas, led by Ihakara Arthur, weaved through the building.

The blessing seals the preconstruction ceremony conducted in the middle of last year which covered the laying of four foundation stones. A group photo commemorating that occasion was placed in the reception room.
Official luminaries at this function included Mayor Brett Amblet, MPs Roger Sowry and Judy Keall, as well as councillors Diana Ammundsen and Kathy Spiers.

Art and the elements on Waitangi Day festival
Kapi Mana 30.01.1996

A challenge has been thrown at a group of Whitireia Art Graduates to create works symbolic of the elements of the Waitangi Day Festival at Aotea Lagoon. Using a variety of mediums, these interpretations will be viewed as "artworks in progress" in their completion stages on the day.

Erueti Tutaki, Hui Whiu and Tony Hawkins are carving manuka totem poles representative of earth, wind and fire. Kyleigh Adrian and Paula Garratt have combined their off-beat talent to create a floating sculpture for the lagoon.

Helen Gardiner 1996Helen Gardiner
Cambodia benefits from kiwi teaching skills
Contact 08.02.1996, by Amanda Weatherley

Four local polytechnic tutors are making an impact in the third world country of Cambodia by training some of its people in basic maths, tourism and hospitality.

Whitireia Polytechnic tutors Helen Gardiner, Cambodian born Farib Sos, Jean James and Johan Derkx are being funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in conjunction with Polytechnics International New Zealand, to train some of Cambodia's nursing and hospitality tutors.

Helen and Farib recently visited Phnom Penh, a city of about one million people on the banks of the Mekong River, and taught ten nursing tutors from throughout Cambodia basic maths and tutor training techniques.

Helen Gardiner, office systems and travel manager, is set to return to Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh next month for ten days with Man Hau Lieu, a Cambodian born tutor at Auckland Institute of Technology. 

Harvard graduate to help celebrate the 10th birthday of Whitireia
Kapi Mana 20.02.1996

Harvard graduate, Pauline Kingi was one of the many eminent speakers who helped Whitireia Polytechnic celebrate its 10th birthday. She spoke on the question of celebrating cultural differences at the polytech this Friday as part of a summer lecture series entitled "One Nation, Two Partners, Many People".

Ms Kingi holds an LLB, Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Criminology. She completed postgraduate studies at Harvard in International Law and Business. She was the chairperson of the Auckland Institute of Technology and the chairperson of the NZ Council of Health Care Standard in 1996. Directorships include Moana Fishing Company, Te Kupenga Fisheries Confederation and the Aotea Entertainment Centre.

Polytech to lose its Royalty
Porirua News 28.02.1996

Whitireia Community Polytechnic's first chief executive, Turoa Royal announced that he is to retire after 10 years heading the institution. Mr Royal said that with the 10-year celebrations of Whitireia Polytechnic occurring in March he decided it was time to reassess his position as Chief Executive.

"I believe chief executives of Government departments or educational institutions should not stay too long in the job. Many of the structures and systems are in place and it's time to bring new energy, ideas and visions to the polytechnic.

Mr Royal said the 10 year celebrations: with the opening of the Kapiti campus by the Minister of Education Lockwood Smith on March 16 1996; the establishment of friends of Whitireia; the summer lecture series entitled One Nation, Two Partners, Many People- featuring many eminent speakers; the publication of Whitireia Conversations and other celebratory events; seemed like the appropriate time to retire.

Whitireia Performing Arts off to the Solomon Islands
Kapiti Observer 24.06.1996

Eleven first-year students of Whitireia Performing Arts leave for the Solomon Islands this week to perform as part of official Independence celebrations from the 25 June to 9 July. Invited by the Consul General of the Solomon Islands, the group will preview their performance at a premiere of the Whitireia Performing Arts explosive season of new works, Whitireia Trenz, at Page 90 Artspace on 24 June.

The students follow in the Whitireia tradition to perform on the international stage. Company members and students of the Performing Arts course at Whitireia Community Polytechnic have been invited to open the NZ Education Fair in Kuala Lumpur for the fourth year in a row. A group of 14 dancers will also perform in Mexico at the International Cervantino Festival for the Arts in October. Three Whitireia graduates are guest choreographers, Ioane Leota (Samoa), Sam Samuels (Cook Islands) and Te Aukura "Chuck" Upu (Cook Islands).

Craft design student Sidi Reihana, works on an Oamaru-stone sculpture

 Craft design student Sidi Reihana works on an Oamaru-stone sculpture

Students unveil their origins
Dominion 8.06.1996

Whitireia Community Polytechnic's Art and Craft Design department will shortly open its annual Origins exhibition at Page 90 Artspace on June 27.

This year's exhibition, subtitled Natural Order, will again display work resulting from students' research into their family backgrounds, legends and culture.

The Origins project is part of the curriculum for the National Diploma in Craft Design offered by the department. It reflects the department's philosophy of focusing on "who we were to find out who we are or will be."

Art breaks down the barriers
Evening Post 20.06.1996

Art was the common language when three Japanese artists met Whitireia Community Polytechnic students this week. A potter, stone sculptor and glass craftsman were among 18 members of the Nishio International Exchange Association which visited Porirua for three days. Nishio is Porirua's sister city.

The group toured the polytechnic's mastercraft workshops, which covered creative eyewear, paper arts and book illustration - taught by guest artists from New Zealand and the Philippines.

The visitors were presented with a bone carving and flax screen made by Whitireia art tutors Owen Mapp and Prue Townsend. Mr Mapp has worked with Japan's Prince Takamado, making the sculptured toggles which are worn on the belt of kimonos. He has exhibited his work in Britain, the United State and Japan.

kristelle plimmer and japanese artistsEye Opener - Visiting artists, from left, Katsuyoshi Naito, Kazuhiko Kamiya and Koji Emoto, check out the latest artistic eyewear with Whitireia student Kristelle Plimmer

Whitireia students score high in the hospitality stakes
Kapi Mana 27.08.1996

Whitireia Community Polytechnic students returned from the hospitality industry's national awards held recently with a medal tally to be proud of.

They came back from the Logan Campbell Centre in Auckland with two gold medals, one silver and five bronze after competing against the country's best hospitality industry students and professionals. The locals won a medal in every category in which they were entered at the National Salon Culinary Catering Competition. Arya Armitage won gold for her flower arrangements and a bronze for an imaginative table setting.  Rochelle Fischer received gold for napkin folding and silver for table service.

Whitireia tutor Sonya Martin described it as an "incredibly tough competition."

Representing Whitireia were seven tutors, six team members and 12 supporters. Preparation began in April this year when the team was selected. "It was quite a laborious effort to get to go in the first place, they had to compete against each other," says Ms Martin.

New CEO for Whitireia Polytechnic
Porirua News 25.09.1996

Whitireia Community Polytechnic Council has announced the appointment of Deirdre Dale as the polytechnic's new chief executive. Mrs Dale was previously deputy chief executive at the polytechnic and worked in a variety of management and teaching roles in tertiary education and training.

Mrs Dale says she is very fortunate to be taking up this position at a time when Whitireia is still growing and is increasingly recognised as a highly successful organisation where staff go the extra mile to assist students.

"The demand for what Whitireia has to offer is shown by the fact that, unlike many other tertiary institutions, our 1996 EFTS target of student enrolments has already been exceeded and we will continue to grow to meet that student demand just as rapidly as the Government is willing to fund us," she says.

Families share in nursing celebrations
The Whitireia Times 10.1996, by Alexander Moloney

The son of Margaret Southwick, the Head of the Nursing Centre of Learning at Whitireia, was among the graduating 1993-95 Nursing class.

Matthew Southwick was one of the class of thirty-six who passed and attended the ceremony at Todd Park. The celebrations were shared by the families of the graduates with one of the families performing a haka, and some other families performing waiata to show how they felt. The importance of the family was emphasised by Turoa Royal, then Whitireia chief executive.

Turoa Royal, who was speaking at his last Nursing graduation ceremony, said: "The success rate of the Nursing Centre of Learning was high because of the partnership between students, family and the tutors."

Etevise Iaone, speaking on behalf of the students, was full of praise for her tutors and the polytechnic and said there was a "great sense of acceptance" from them since her first day on the programme. She said the high success rate was due to "hard work and perseverance" on the part of students and tutors alike.

First Polytechnic plan for Pacific Islands training
The Whitireia Times 10.1996, by Clare Fussell

Whitireia could be the first polytechnic in New Zealand to be able to offer early childhood education training for Pacific Island trainees with classes planned to start next year. It will also be the first programme of its kind in the Wellington area. The Pacific Islands Early Childhood Committee of Aotearoa has designed the programme to enable Pacific Islands early childhood education workers to gain culturally-relevant qualifications.

Programme manager Kaye Jujnovich said that while workers in other early childhood areas, including kohanga reo, could be trained and qualified to Ministry of Education standards, there was nothing so far for Pacific Islands workers who wished to work with young Pacific Islands children.

"This venture is exciting because the initiative came from the Pacific Islands' community themselves, from their desire to look after their young people," said Kaye. "It recognises the young peoples' need to know who they are, to grow to be mentally-well, healthy adults."

The PIECCA programme includes seven Pacific cultures and has Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu community input. While much of the formal training will be offered in English, students will attend tutorials using their own language and assignments may also be completed in their chosen tongue.

Students design a unique fale
The Whitireia Times 10.1996, by Shelley Plowman

A unique Pacific Island Fale, or house, has been designed and built at Whitireia. Students on the Craft and Design Diploma Programme's final year were commissioned to create the design for the Polytechnic.

A courtyard area adjoining the Art Department buildings was enclosed by glass doors which are engraved with designs by the students. The theme of these is followed around the internal walls in a frieze of prints. There are three main pillars and each has hemp rope coiled around it. One pillar has fifteen strands representing the fifteen Cook Islands. Another has thirteen strands representing the number of students in the Craft Design Diploma's third-year class. The third pillar has seven strands depicting the seven canoes which carried the people who first populated New Zealand.

Reunion to explore the past
Evening Post 14.10.96

Exploring their past and themselves is the focus of a Page 90 exhibition by Whitireia Polytechnic's first arts graduates and the Craft Design Diploma's founding tutor, Anne Philbin. Tracey Huxford, Eric Ngan, Ernest Sami and Wi Taepa graduated in 1992 from the four-year course started by Anne. The five decided to come together for an exhibition entitled Eye on the Land. Since graduating, Tracey and Eric have taught art at the polytechnic while Wi teaches ceramics and mixed media there. After nearly nine years at Whitireia Polytechnic, Anne is now Northland Polytechnic's visual arts programme leader.

The exhibition shows the diverse cultural backgrounds of the group and in some cases, their perceptions of themselves through their art. Wi's "low tech" pots have allowed him the freedom to escape from the regulations of traditional Māori art, but they still display Māori designs from carving, weaving and other art forms. Tracey also explores her Māori ancestry with boldly coloured flax kites which represent strength and look down on the earth "where we as a group have come from and where we are going."

Anne Philbin Tracey Huxford Wi TaepaAnne Philbin, Tracey Huxford and Wi Taepa

Musicians to showcase their talents
Kapi Mana 05.11.1996

Third-year music students at Whitireia Polytechnic will put their talents to the test by staging a concert this month. But it's no ordinary gig. As part of their end of year assessments, students are required to organise the venue and the equipment as well as promote and perform. Four bands will play a range of material including reggae, rock, pop, jazz and blues at Page 90 on Tuesday, November 12. The concert starts at 7 pm and admission is by gold coin.

Music Students 1996Band members Marty (guitar), George (drums), Gloria (bass), Vicky (keyboards), Joe (guitar/vocals), Susan (vocals).