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New Campus Blessing

New Campus Blessing

The new tertiary education campus on Taupo Quay was blessed by local iwi this morning at dawn. Around sixty people gathered to witness the proceedings led by Kaumatua John Maihi.

Described as an appropriate and moving ceremony, it began at the edge of the Whanganui River, across Pakaitore and onto the new campus. The buildings and site were cleared of bad spirits, and building name plaques were unveiled in the midst of karakia and waiaata.

Whanganui UCOL Principal Suzanne Frecklington said it was a proud moment for everyone present. “We are delighted to have started our journey on the new campus with this special blessing. It is a great way to start the new year and is very special. I acknowledge the support of everyone who came along and shared the experience. We intend the campus to be a place for the whole community to share and are looking forward to the year.”

The name of the site, Matapihi ki te Ao, was chosen because it encompasses all people and reflects the opportunities education can bring. Matapihi ki te Ao is above the main entrance on Rutland Street.

The building names were chosen with care and after consultation said Mrs Frecklington. “Some reflect the academic activities that will take place inside. In other cases, we are honouring people who have played an important part in the development of tertiary education in this region.”

The new main building on Rutland Street has been named for Michael Payne, who was a driving force in the creation and success of the Wanganui Regional Community College.

The Quay School of the Arts is named for the late Edith Collier, a Whanganui artist and significant Modernist painter.

The Henry D Bennett Centre is named for a prominent Maori leader in the Whanganui region, on the building known previously as the Backhouse building.

John W Scott, the founding Principal of the Wanganui Regional Community College has his name above the library and learning hub.

The student block in the County Council building on Rutland Street has been named for Clarrie Pearson, a leading educator in engineering in Wanganui from 1956 to 1961.

The precinct contains a mix of architecturally designed or restored heritage buildings and new facilities, constructed with environmentally friendly and sustainable materials.

Whanganui UCOL staff work from the new campus from 8 February. Until then they are temporarily located at the UCOL Sport and Fitness Centre on Wilson Street. Enrolments and enquiries can be answered at Whanganui UCOL’s temporary Information Centre at 15 Victoria Avenue.


Official Blessing
Whanganui’s New Tertiary Education Campus
Matapihi ki te Ao

7 January 2008, Dawn

Parts of the new campus have been named for the following people. Plaques will be unveiled as part of the ceremony.

THE MICHAEL PAYNE CENTRE (The main campus building on Rutland Street)

Michael Payne was a driving force in the creation and success of the Wanganui Regional Community College. He was elected as Chair of the Community College Promotions Committee formed to create the college, at its inaugural meeting in October 1977.

He became the inaugural chairman of the College Board in 1983, serving for seven years.

He was a well known Wanganui architect and a committed supporter of community development, including the Whanganui Regional Museum. He participated in many projects with Maori communities, including the restoration of a whare puni on the Whanganui River. He was also involved in the restoration of the whare nui at Putiki Marae and the reconstruction of Te Manawa, a large community building at Ratana.

THE HENRY D. BENNETT CENTRE (former Backhouse building)

Henry D. Bennett was a prominent Maori leader in the Whanganui region, and was executive director of the Te Rangahaua Marae.

In 1986 be became Liaison Officer with Rangahaua, the Maori Studies department at Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic, later becoming head of department.

He also established the bi-lingual teacher training programme, Te Rangakura and received the Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community.

Henry D. Bennett died in 1998. Amongst many tributes, his was described as “a life spent opening windows for others.”
THE EDITH COLLIER CENTRE (Quay School of the Arts)

Artist Edith Collier studied art at the Technical School in Wanganui. She left New Zealand in 1913, aged 27, for St John's Wood Art School in London. She exhibited widely and became a significant Modernist painter.

Edith Collier returned to Wanganui in 1922.

Appreciation of the value of her work, as a Modernist and innovator, has increased in recent years.

A book on her life and work, by former tutor in Art History at Whanganui Regional Community Polytechnic Joanne Drayton, was published in 1999 with the support of the Edith Collier Trust, the Sarjeant Art Gallery and the polytechnic.

THE CLARRIE PEARSON CENTRE (Student block, including Health centre – old County Council Building on Rutland St))

Clarrie Pearson was Head of Department of the Senior Technical Division of the Wanganui Boys’ High School, later part of the new Wanganui Regional Community College.

He was a leading educator in engineering, teaching at the school and then the College from 1956 to 1961. In 1962 he took up a senior educational position in then Burma, to set up technical evaluation under the Colombo Plan.

A plaque from the Pearson trades block on the old main campus, marking his services to education and the establishment of the College, will be mounted at the new centre.

JOHN W.SCOTT LEARNING HUB (In the new main building - Library and learning centre)

John W. Scott was the founding principal of the Wanganui Regional Community College (later polytechnic), taking up the position in January 1984.

Of Ngai Tahu descent, John was the first person of Maori ancestry to head a tertiary institution in New Zealand. During his time in Wanganui he became affiliated with Putiki marae. He was previously head of arts and community studies at Southland Polytechnic.

John Scott led the development of the craft design programmes throughout New Zealand and set up the first glass school in New Zealand, at Wanganui. He also helped to establish the Community Arts Centre. He is known as "a great encourager" who makes things happen.

Matapihi ki te Ao
This is the overarching name accorded by Whanganui iwi to the new tertiary education centre. Translated as Window of Opportunity.


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