Our History: 2008

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2008 was a year of openings for Whitireia with the introduction of several news buildings and spaces at the Porirua campus, as well as a renewed campus for trades at Mohuia Crescent in Elsdon

The year began with students arriving at a Porirua campus in flux, and with progress on the new Atrium underway, pōwhiri was instead held in the main carpark, as construction on the Wikitoria Katene building continued in earnest behind the seated manuhiri. 

Powhiri 2008New students arrive for semester one pōwhiri 2008

Arts Centre building

manila to porirua ambassadorTeJanoAmbassador Bienvenido Te Jano speaks at the opening of the C400 arts building

In May, part of the Whitireia arts faculty took up residence in a new location at the Porirua campus. The building on the corner of Wi Neera Drive and Tutu Place had been formerly occupied until 2005 by the Mana Education Trust, and now became home to the art faculty's music programmes, as well as senior academic staff and administrators. To mark the opening of the new building an event was held, highlighting recent artistic endeavours in the Philippines by Whitireia arts staff and students.

The building was officially opened by Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand, Bienvenido Te Jano, who spoke of the profound effect that the Whitireia fashion, music, artwork and jewellery had had on the Philippines’ creative community. Porirua Mayor Jenny Brash also spoke to the value of the Whitireia arts programme, saying "It’s a terrific resource for the huge amount of talent in this city and plays an important part in our development."

Edited excerpts of the Manila fashion show were screened, followed by performances from DJ Raw, Creative Writing tutor Hinemoana Baker, and Whitireia Performing Arts students. As the centrepiece of the evening's entertainment, contemporary dance tutor Cathy Livermore performed a work based around the poem Rain by Hone Tuwhare, wearing a voluminous dress created by textile students and with musical accompaniment by Hinemoana Baker.

Opening of Te Whare o Wikitoria Tehuruhuru Katene Whatu

The flagship of the campus redevelopment programme for 2008 was a new Athfield Architects-designed building for the nursing and teaching programmes. The building had been referred to during a lengthy planning period with the rather less than poetic working title of the HEdSS (Health, Education and Social Sciences) building. But on completion, the decision was made to officially name it Te Whare o Wikitoria Tehuruhuru Katene Whatu, or Wikitoria Katene for short, in honour of a widely respected Ngāti Toa nurse, affectionately known as Aunty Wiki. In the submission to the council in which her name was suggested, it was noted that Wikitoria Katene had been "a courageous and brave woman who ventured out into the world and made a difference to the lives of many people. Her spirit and courage reflect the wairua of her people (Ngāti Toa) and her caring, unselfish nature and willingness to work within the community reflects the Whitireia values of manaakitanga and partnership."

Te Whare o Wikitoria Tehuruhuru Katene Whatu incorporated and renovated the existing lecture theatre that had been on site since 1992 and provided classrooms, offices and meeting rooms, with a low carbon footprint and environmentally sustainable features.

The building was opened by Prime Minister Helen Clark on Wednesday 18 June, with Whitireia staff and Performing Arts students welcoming her to Porirua campus with a waiata. After speeches within the new building to assembled staff, members of the Katene family and other representatives of Ngāti Toa, the Prime Minister unveiled a plaque and portrait of the building's namesake to open the building, before watching a final performance from Whitireia Performing Arts students beneath a gloaming sky and going on a tour of the facilities.

Opening of Wikitoria Katene 2008 01Prime Minister Helen Clark arrives at the Porirua campus and watches a waita by Whitireia staff and students

The opening of Te Whare o Wikitoria Tehuruhuru Katene Whatu coincided with the introduction of the Bachelor of Nursing Māori which was first announced by chief executive Don Campbell at an earlier blessing of the building by Ngāti Toa in May of that year. 

Te Whare o Wikitoria Tehuruhuru Katene Whatu at nightTe Whare o Wikitoria Tehuruhuru Katene Whatu at night

Five years after its opening, Te Whare o Wikitoria Tehuruhuru Katene Whatu was temporarily handed over to Maycroft Construction in a morning ceremony on Monday, 17 September 2012, as it became incorporated into a new health building then under construction. On completion in 2013, the larger building took the name of its smaller predecessor, becoming Wikitoria Katene, and the portrait of Aunty Wiki originally unveiled by Prime Minister Helen Clark was moved into its new home.

Industry Training Centre

A renovated and renamed Industry Training Centre at Mohuia Crescent was opened on 9 July by Tertiary Education Minister Pete Hodgson, accompanied by Associate Economic Development Minister and MP for Mana Luamanuvao Winnie Laban.

"This building will assist in training our carpenters, plumbers, gasfitters, drain-layers, roofers, road transport operators, electrical and automotive engineers of the future - people who are vital for sustaining New Zealand's economy," Pete Hodgson said.

He acknowledged that Whitireia was already known for its strong links to the Porirua community and having listened carefully to the skill needs of business and the wider community, had committed to increasing its focus on trades training.

Chris Finlayson speaking at the 2008 Atrium openingHon. Chris Finlayson speaking at the December opening of the Atrium at the Porirua campus

In the Atrium

The year at Whitireia concluded with a series of events within the newly completed Atrium at Porirua campus. The Atrium was purpose-built to provide a sheltered communal area with enough space to cater for large groups and provide an appealing outdoors area for students and staff to share. It incorporated the existing cafeteria and Te Rito Poipoiā – the student services building, with a state of the art inflated roof made from the same materials used in the Water Cube (Beijing National Aquatics Center) at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 

The Atrium was opened on 19 December by Hon. Chris Finlayson, Minister of Arts Culture and Heritage and Attorney General, and was followed by the traditional Whitireia staff Christmas function. Hon. Chris Finlayson spoke of maintaining close ties with Whitireia Community Polytechnic after a long period of involvement that began with political debates early in his career. He also committed to working alongside Mayor Jenny Brash and local MP Winnie Laban to ensure the needs of the community and polytechnic would be met in the New Year. Hekia Parata, Mayor Jenny Brash and Russell Marshall were among the special guests at the opening. A number of staff turned up to the event, happy to celebrate recent campus developments. "It was great to have lots of people turn up for the opening," said Natalie Manos from the Marketing and Communications team. "You can see the Atrium is going to be put to good use in the future and is a valuable new development for the Polytechnic."

The opening was followed by the annual staff Christmas function. With carol singers, awards for the recent staff walkathon, best silly head-dress, spot prizes and plenty to eat and drink, it was a fine way to end a successful year. "Everyone had a ball and the food was great," said Jo Prestwood, Whitireia Events Co-ordinator.

The Atrium was used four days prior to its official opening to host 2,000 students and invited guests in two graduation ceremonies, marking the first time that programmes from all Whitireia faculties had graduated in a single day. Students from the Arts and Communications Faculty and the Service Industries and Trades Faculty graduated at the ceremony at 10 am, while the 4 pm ceremony saw the turn of students from Health, Education and Social Sciences and Te Wānanga Māori.

Graduation in the Atrium 2008

Suzanne Snively (Whitireia Council member 2002 – 2013) and Don Campbell (chief executive) lead the procession of guests and senior staff into graduation in the Atrium


The combined graduation allowed us "to celebrate in the best way possible by acknowledging and rewarding our students for their success" said chief executive Don Campbell. "This also allows us to really live our vision which is to lead and illuminate our communities." 

December Graduation 2008 01Performing Arts students perform at graduation in the Atrium

In the news

Cuba Street a perfect fit for Whitireia
Kapi Mana News, 29.01.2008

Whitireia Community Polytechnic is taking a considerable stake in the Wellington city education market, having acquired a prime space in Cuba Mall. The move is an attempt to target students markets, to enable the development of purpose-built flexible teaching spaces and resources within the ongoing alignment of qualifications to the needs of employers and industry.

Voted 'world's seventh funkiest street' by internet travel writers, Cuba Street is a strong fit for the profile of Whitireia programmes in Wellington says its chief operating officer Pat Stuart. "We felt that it would give us a great location that matches the suite of communication programmes we offer in journalism and publishing."

Opening next month, the new location (above Olive cafe, near the bucket fountain) is far more suitable than the existing Wellington city location, says Ms Stuart.

Students crank it up for NZ Music
Kapi Mana 13.05.2008

Music student Liang Liang was one of many who took to the stage at Whitireia Polytechnic's recent music gig Crank It Up. Held on May 5 to celebrate New Zealand Music Month, the gig saw performances from the polytechnic's foundation and Bachelor of Applied Arts (Music) students, with many taking the opportunity to show off their own songs and compositions.

Whitireia Bachelor of Applied Arts (Music) programme leader Dan Adams says he is hoping to hold similar gigs in the future as they encourage more students to create their own work. "It's a perfect opportunity for the students to follow their hearts and go with it, sometimes music isn't about writing it down but more just creating it and letting it out," he says.

Makeover makes Whitireia world-class
The Dominion Post, 05.06.2008

A multi-million dollar makeover of Whitireia Community Polytechnic, built on the shores of Porirua Harbour, is creating a world-class facility, says chief executive Don Campbell. As he surveys the building work and looks out across the harbour, he is clearly pleased with the progress. "This is the best site for a campus in the country."

And it’s just getting better, with a long-term $25 million building programme nearly completed. This month a new $5 million health, education and social services building at the Porirua campus will be opened by Government, next month the polytechnic’s revamped Trades Training Centre in Elsdon and its new Wellington Cuba Mall campus will be officially opened, and work is well underway on a massive covered atrium at the heart of the Porirua campus. "If you want world-class tertiary education you can’t be operating out of temporary prefabricated buildings," says Mr Campbell.

The new health, education and social services building has been designed by Athfield Architects, who were responsible for the award-winning Te Kete Wānanga library and learning centre. It is to be named Wikitoria Te Huruhuru Katene Whatu, after the Porirua nurse who served in World War Two and then returned home to work to rehabilitate injured soldiers. Her work was recognised with a Queen Service Medal and a military award for commendable service.

The building, which links to a state of the art lecture theatre, has a low carbon footprint and incorporates many environmentally sustainable features. It will house classrooms, staff offices, meeting rooms and administration services, as well as the polytechnic’s nursing, paramedic, early childhood, and community and social work degree courses. It is due to be formally opened on June 18 by Prime Minister Helen Clark.

The commanding building is right at the Whitireia entrance in Porirua and work has included modifications to that entrance with extensive landscaping. "We’ve uplifted and upgraded the whole entry to campus," says Mr Campbell. "I think everyone feels proud when they’re being educated in good quality surroundings... Here is an educational institution of the highest standing and Porirua deserves it."

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