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Overwhelming consensus – get involved

The Association Of Polytechnics In New Zealand
Te Aka Haumi O Ngâ Kuratini O Aotearoa

Media Release

17 October 2001

Overwhelming consensus – get involved

There was clear consensus and support for the Skilling the Nation conference in November at a launch event held last evening. Now is the time for the education, business and political sectors to come together, and debate strategies for the polytechnic sector so that it can play its important role in the social and economic development of New Zealand.

The launch was attended by members of Parliament from the Labour, National and Green parties, members of the polytechnic sector, and business and public sector representatives from a wide range of interested organisations.

In his opening address, Paul McElroy, President of the Association of Polytechnics, invited all sectors to fully participate in discussions in the lead up to and during the Skilling the Nation conference in Palmerston North from 2 – 4 November.

“Our conference will be asking some hard questions. Most of these questions will be asked by people from outside the polytechnic sector. It will be incumbent on those delegates from within the sector to listen very carefully to those messages and then consider what action the sector needs to take in order to better place itself for the changes ahead,” said Mr McElroy.

“Both the Knowledge Wave and government policy messages present major challenges for the polytechnic sector. Where you look, whichever way you turn, the education sector in general and the polytechnic sector in particularly is going to be at the centre of any national recovery programme.”

The Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary) Hon Steve Maharey, and Mr Pat Waite, Acting Chief Executive of the Wellington Regional Economic Development Trust both commended the Association on its proposed direction.

“The recent Knowledge Wave conference set a high-level direction for New Zealand’s efforts in the information age,” said the Minister. “It is now time for action, and it is now time for polytechnics to position themselves as being, not just part of the action, but at the center of the action. Polytechnics need to be better connected to their regional economies and should be a source of drive and leadership.”

“The Skilling the Nation conference is a very proactive step from the Polytechnic sector and I look forward to seeing them formalise some plans for the future that will contribute to better partnerships with business, identifying and fostering leaders and delivering education of international standard in the future,” said Mr Pat Waite.

“The Wellington Regional Economic Development Trust is committed to being an active partner and collaborator with the Polytechnic sector.”

The importance of the conference for regional New Zealand businesses was reiterated by Ifor Ffowcs-Williams, Chief Executive of Cluster Navigators.

“There have been many calls to 'upskill' the nation, reflecting our continuing inability to keep pace with our OECD peers. In addressing the need to upskill, we need to urgently move from broad macro, national level responses to dig deep into our communities around New Zealand, understand their core strengths, and build on those. It is at the local, micro level that 'upskilling' has particular relevance, and it is here that partnerships between clusters of businesses and their supporting infrastructure, including Polytechnics, plays a cornerstone role.”

A set of propositions has been developed for debate in the lead up to and during the conference.

“We are encouraging business, Maori and all interested parties to get involved now,” said Mr Jim Doyle, Executive Director of the Association of Polytechnics.

“We need to be talking about how to skill our nation for the future, for the next 5 years and outward. The sector does many things well but we recognise that we could be taking a stronger leadership role and need to look at how we can better meet the needs of a changing economy.”

“We invite people to read the propositions, come to the conference and have their say in developing our strategies.”

The propositions, conference information and speeches from the launch event are available on the


Media enquiries: Tracy Dillimore, ++64 25 405 595,

For further information on the conference contact: Pauline Walker, ++64 4 917 2762,

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