WITT recovery hastens council reconstitution
Press Release: Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki
WITT recovery hastens council reconstitution and debt write-down.
Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki chief executive Richard Handley today credited the good work of WITT staff for a Government decision to reconstitute the institution’s council and write-down significant historic debt.
Mr Handley’s praise followed an announcement by Tertiary Education Minister Pete Hodgson to reconstitute the WITT council and convert up to $18 million in outstanding Crown debt to equity over a five-year period.
He said the decisions demonstrated clear support for the good work in turning around the performance of Taranaki’s only polytechnic by dedicated WITT staff, assisted by Crown Commissioner Murray Strong.
“The announcements are a major endorsement for the strong recovery that has continued at WITT in the last 18 months. The return of a full council and the write-down of debilitating historic debt adds further momentum to our recovery, and will continue to bolster community confidence around WITT's ability to continue to meet the educational needs of the region."
The announcement comes less than two weeks after the official welcome of Mr Handley and senior managers, Lisa Ferguson, head of Faculty Health, Humanities and Maori; Lois Kelly, head of Faculty Engineering, Oil and Gas; Jed Rowlands, director of Business Development; and Eve Kawana-Brown, project manager.
“We have a fresh new leadership team that will ensure that the gains at WITT and the current momentum will continue,” Mr Handley said
He said WITT was now able to focus on providing compelling solutions to meet the educational and training needs of the region.
The decision to reconstitute the council will see the departure of Mr Strong on October 1.
Mr Strong said he was heartened by the calibre of council members who would provide governance and strategy for WITT, which would ensure the strong progress made within the institution would continue.
“There is a vibrancy and confidence within WITT that will be further enhanced bythe governance provided by the highly skilled and capable community leaders who will form the basis for the new WITT Council.”
The council will include ministerial appointees, former South Taranaki mayor Mary Bourke, New Plymouth solicitor and company director, John Auld, chartered accountant, dairy farmer and former Fonterra director Marise James and company director and former chair of the Taranaki Maori Business and Development Agency, Hinerangi Edwards. The remaining places on the council will be filled by WITT staff and student representatives.
Mr Strong said most appointees were members of the commissioner’s WITT Advisory Committee, which had provided invaluable assistance to the strong recovery currently being experienced at the institute.
“There is a breadth and depth of expertise both in governance and management which fills me with great confidence for this institution moving forward.”
Mr Strong applauded the leadership provided by acting chief executive Sue Duncan and her team, which paved the way for today’s announcement.