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Official opening of Whakatāne campus development

Media Release – Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi: indigenous-university

Official opening of Whakatāne campus development

Friday, 7 December 2012

Awanuiārangi celebrates new development

Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi: indigenous-university celebrates the opening of its Whakatāne campus development on Friday, 7 December 2012 – a watershed event in the tertiary institution’s 20-year history.

The complex at 13 Domain Road incorporates cutting-edge artistic and cultural elements and has been designed to provide modern, fit-for-purpose education facilities in a uniquely Māori environment. Awanuiārangi will now have facilities similar to those provided at other tertiary education institutions in New Zealand.

The campus development includes a library with special collections, modern student commons, a high-tech media centre, teaching suites, lecture theatres and study rooms that will allow national and international interaction between Awanuiārangi students and their peers worldwide. It also houses an executive suite, boardroom, offices and a Noho Centre, which supports Awanuiārangi’s noho wānanga immersion learning approach.

CEO, Distinguished Professor Hingangaroa Smith, said Whakatāne is the headquarters for the wānanga’s educational activities throughout New Zealand and internationally. The state-of-the-art buildings in Whakatāne reflect an outstanding opportunity for entry into higher education for students in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Of significance is that the Eastern Bay is one of the most socio-economically deprived areas of Māori in New Zealand.

Distinguished Professor Smith said the wānanga’s focus is on intervening in the continuing high levels of Māori educational underdevelopment, and its record to date shows that it is making a significant difference.

The wānanga is intentional about producing Māori with degrees at all levels, and in this respect punches above its weight in the provision of higher education, he said.

“There are two important statistical trends that need to be considered here. One is that Māori with a degree are more likely to gain employment. The second is that Awanuiārangi produces around one-fifth of the country’s Māori degree graduates.”

Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi will also provide a platform for engagement with other institutions nationally and internationally, for the benefit of its students in Whakatāne, throughout the Eastern Bay of Plenty and nationwide, Distinguished Professor Smith said.

Innovative elements incorporated into the new buildings will serve to further expand the wānanga’s outreach. Awanuiārangi is already one of the most technologically connected institutions in the country, with advanced connectivity that allows it to explore new ways of engagement in higher education. This includes MOOCS, or Massive Open Online Courses – a recent development in distance and online learning.

“There is enormous potential to incrementally build on new opportunities that arise through the broadband expansion, through connectivity and online teaching, and to respond to the challenge of the MOOCS revolution in ways that other institutions cannot,” Distinguished Professor Smith said. “There is still a lot to be done, but we’re ready.

“These buildings, as magnificent as they are, are just one part of the wānanga. The wānanga is embedded in the hearts and minds of the people, and is also to be found in many different sites across our communities.

“This opening is not a conclusion, it’s a beginning. We are simply marking a milestone in our education journey, of which there remains much distance to travel.”

On Thursday (December 6), a pre-event conference will be staged in Whakatāne on the state of the art in regard to Māori engagement in higher education. Participants from international and national settings will be involved.

The official opening of the campus begins at 4am on Friday, with hundreds of invited guests joining staff and iwi representatives for a ritual blessing, followed by a full day of ceremony, celebration and special events.

Among the 800 invited guests are Te Arikinui Sir Tumu Te Heuheu (Te Heuheu Tūkino VIII), of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, iwi leaders, Sir Harawira Gardiner, Tertiary Education Minister the Hon. Steven Joyce, local MP the Hon. Anne Tolley, representatives from universities in Australia, Canada and Hawai’i, the vice-chancellor of the University of Waikato, Professor Roy Crawford, together with the pro-vice-chancellor Māori, Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith, and all the deans. Representatives from the University of Auckland, Canterbury University and Massey University will also attend.

A powhiri at 10am precedes the official unveiling of a commemorative plaque by Te Arikinui Sir Tumu Te Heuheu. A special graduation event follows, including the awarding of a posthumous Honorary Doctorate to Te Onehou Eliza Phillis, an Honorary Doctorate to Sir Harawira Gardiner, and a Distinguished Fellowship to Judith Amohaere Tangitu.

Speakers include the Chair of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi Council, Distinguished Professor Sir Sidney Moko Mead; Distinguished Professor Smith; University of Waikato vice-chancellor Professor Roy Crawford and the Hon. Steven Joyce.

The day’s events end with a hākari.

A series of open days will be held early next year to give the wider community an opportunity to visit the new development.


Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi: indigenous-university


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