Our History: 2003

The number of students and programmes at Whitireia made a significant leap in 2003, with 4022 total EFTs studying across 108 full-time programmes

In concert with the growth in student numbers, a long-awaited redevelopment plan for the Porirua campus was announced, with $35 million proposed for a decade-long programme of new buildings, staggered into four stages. Council chair Chris Kirk-Burnnand said that the intention of the plan was to provide tertiary facilities of the same standards that students would expect elsewhere. "We're going to try and condense the campus, bring the buildings closer together, and provide more cover for students when it's wet."

At this early stage, the plan included the relocation of Te Onepu restaurant, the building of a new student services block (including a new library), the addition of a second story to the administration building, and a new auditorium. The plans and the rate of progress changed over the decade-long project, with Te Onepu staying where it was, the administration building remaining single-storied (albeit with some internal changes, including the relocation of Information & Enrolment into the Russell Marshall wing previously occupied by the library), and the old auditorium being remodelled, rather than replaced, when it became part of the Te Whare o Wikitoria Tehuruhuru Katene Whatu building. The proposed student services block and the new library did eventuate, though, and the construction of this would get underway in 2004, opening as the Athfield Architects-designed Te Kete Wānanga in 2005.

The first stage of the redevelopment plan began with the construction of the Athfield Architects-designed Business & Computing Centre, a $6.6 million classroom block created to house business and information technology programmes.

Busines and Computing Centre render

Artist's impression of the Business & Computing Centre


Several prefabricated buildings surrounding the courtyard of Te Rito Poipoiā were removed to make way for the new building, and in so doing began a move to open up the siloed squares of prefabs that had populated the campus since its early years. Deirdre Dale broke ground with members of Arrow International and work began on modernising the campus.

GroundbreakingforBCCentre 2003Deirdre Dale breaking ground for the Business & Computing Centre

Iti Rearea

One change at the Porirua campus that was independent of the campus redevelopment plan was the renaming and renovation of the home of Te Wānanga Māori. In honour of kaumātua Ihakara Arthur, the building was renamed Iti Rearea, based on a whakatauākī he frequently quoted: Iti rearea teitei, kahikatea ka taea ('Even though you are a small bird, you are still able to reach a pinnacle'). A tomokanga was added to the exterior of the building, with additional pou bordering the pebble-lined entrance.

Blessing of Iti rearea01

The blessing of Iti Rearea, led by Wiremu Katene, Hekenukumai Busby and Karewa Arthur 


The building was blessed in a ceremony attended by several important visitors, including Ngāti Toa kaumātua Karewa Arthur, who led the blessing, founding Whitireia council member Taukiri Thomason, and master carver Hekenukumai Busby.

Blessing of Iti rearea02

Staff and guests gather for the blessing of Iti Rearea


In 2012, Te Wānanga Māori would relocate into the Business & Computing Centre to make way for the expanded Wikitoria Katene building. The tomokanga was moved to above an entrance facing the Atrium and unveiled in a blessing on 22 July, while other pou were incorporated elsewhere in the building. 

Blessing of Iti rearea03Hekenukumai Busby greets Taukiri Thomason 

In the news

Polytechnic eyes $35 million upgrade
Kapi Mana 08.04.2003

A $35 million redevelopment proposal that will bring Whitireia Community Polytechnic’s facilities into the 21st Century has been agreed to in principle by its council.

The project would see a four-stage upgrade over 10 years, that would include the relocation of the Estuary restaurant, a student services block including a new library, a second story added to the administration block, and a new auditorium. 

Council chairperson, Chris Kirk-Burnnand said it was all very exciting, but there was still a long way to go before anything became definite. A business case was to be prepared by the polytechnic, then approval to be sought from the Ministry of Education and the Treasury Department, before final approval from Parliament.

The fastest-growing polytechnic in New Zealand, Whitireia had been considering redevelopment proposals for some time. The redevelopment would not have seen any land sold, an option that was presented in an unsuccessful proposal to the council last year.

Whitireia booms
Porirua News 20.08.2003, by Simon Smith 

Whitireia Community Polytechnic had 22 per cent more students in 2003 than in 2002 and was the fastest-growing tertiary provider in the country at the time. 

It continued its phenomenal effective full-time student growth of the past few years, chief executive Deirdre Dale says. "We were at least one of the fastest, if not the fastest-growing polytechnic in the country in 2002/3." But she expected the present rate will not continue, even though the effective full-time student growth was 23 per cent in 2002 and 26 per cent in 2001. "Growth for its own sake was not a good thing, but the growth reflected the high regard of the polytechnics reputation."

"A lot of it was international students, but also it was the new programmes catering for different needs," Ms Dale said.

The polytechnic had more than 3700 effective full-time students in 2003.

vaune mason cathedralVaune Mason and her Cathedral
Tasty gems of design
Hutt News 14.10.2003

Everybody needs a little sanctuary and Whitireia Community Polytechnic student Vaune Mason has hers wrapped around her finger. Her sterling silver ring 'Cathedral' is just one of many creations by Diploma and Advanced Diploma jewellery design and visual arts students in Tasty - an exhibition running in Wellington City from 20 October.

Vaune say there is a strong architectural theme to her work, and it came from "and idea about the sanctuary, a place to be."

'Cathedral' was her term's work towards a Diploma of Jewellery Design, and the funky 'tower rings' have just kept on coming.

As well as exhibiting a collection of new works, Tasty will also be an introduction for most of the artists. 

The cornerstone of the Whitireia courses is jewellery connoisseur Peter Deckers, who has worked in the contemporary jewellery field for over 20 years.

Tasty, Quoil Gallery, 149 Willis St, 20 October to 8 November.

Building Redevelopment
Under Construction @ Whitireia, 29.11.2003

Work on the new business centre is progressing with noticeable changes occurring every day.

 2006 redevelopment

Over the next few months, staff and students will see significant progress as the new two-storey building takes shape and form. Design work is nearing completion and the project team are focusing on the finer details such as landscaping, artwork and interior finishes.