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New Trans-Tasman sporting and educational partnership

EMBARGOED TO 11:00 a.m. 24 June 2014

Media Release 24 June 2014

New Trans-Tasman sporting and educational partnership and sports performance centre to be launched in Northland

NorthTec is pleased to announce the establishment of an educational partnership with the Australian NRL franchise, the Gold Coast Titans, as well as the launch of the Graham Lowe Sports Performance Centre.

NorthTec CEO, Paul Binney said he was excited that the Gold Coast Titans NRL Club has agreed to come on board as the initial strategic partner in a new sports performance centre that is to be launched in Northland. “The Gold Coast High Performance Centre of Excellence in Australia is world class and will be of huge benefit to our new sports centre and NorthTec in both the initial stages and beyond.”

The Gold Coast Titans will bring to the partnership the Titans 4 Tomorrow Limited, a non-profit charitable organisation which delivers the Gold Coast Titans community programmes. Mr Binney – “These programmes have proved to have a positive impact with disadvantaged youth in Australia, particularly in smaller rural communities. This collaboration between the Titans and NorthTec allows the utilisation of the Titans’ experience and expertise to help those in the Northland region with similar programmes to be delivered by highly qualified professional staff.”

Michael Searle, Founder and Executive Director of the Gold Coast Titans, as well as Founder and Managing Director of Titans 4 Tomorrow, said, “We are excited about this joint venture with NorthTec and are looking forward to a long and successful relationship.” He added that he has been impressed by potential future NRL stars from Northland, many of whom only need an opportunity, and that hopefully some of these upcoming stars will play for the Titans in the future.

The Titans announcement is made in conjunction with the launch of the Graham Lowe Sports Performance Centre that will be based in Whangarei.

Famed rugby league coach and administrator, Graham Lowe, has joined forces with NorthTec, Northland’s largest tertiary educational provider, in a Youth Guarantee education venture. The programme aims to re-engage students who have athletic potential but who have become disconnected from education, and it will provide a performance training environment where they can develop and strengthen skills within their preferred sport.

This programme will be underpinned by a positive education outcome so that the participants have the chance to gain a qualification irrespective of what may be achieved in their chosen sport.

Through participating in the proposed sports performance programme, students will learn skills for budgeting, personal health and wellbeing, teamwork, time management, and self-awareness. They will also develop communication skills and gain the literacy, computing and numeracy skills required to confidently progress to higher tertiary training or employment. The course will be delivered in a sports performance context allowing students to also develop their athletic potential and to understand the requirements of professional sport.

“It has been a dream of mine for a long time to help those in the North who may not be in a position to enjoy what is available to those in other parts of New Zealand,” said Graham Lowe. “Education is the key for our young people and sport is a language most young people understand.”

Mr Lowe firmly believes that the opportunity to learn in a sporting environment also nurtures students sporting ambitions. “This programme will ensure that those involved receive the holistic development that will allow them to pursue future endeavours with confidence,” he said.

NorthTec CEO, Paul Binney, stated that the Sports Performance Centre would provide an opportunity for a wide range of Northland youth, particularly those disengaged from education, to further their sporting and educational dreams at a tertiary institution. “The Graham Lowe Sports Performance Centre offers our region something unique - developing sporting skills while achieving a tertiary qualification.”

The Graham Lowe Sports Performance Centre plans to establish strategic partnerships with professional franchises in as many sports as possible to provide opportunities for students in multiple sports. Mr Binney - “This will provide a pathway to a level of performance training and potential employment for the often neglected and underutilised young talent in the Northland region.”


NorthTec is the Tai Tokerau (Northland) region's largest provider of tertiary education, with campuses and learning centres in Whangarei, Kerikeri, Rāwene, Kaikohe and Kaitaia. NorthTec also has over 60 community-based delivery points from Coatesville in rural Rodney to Ngataki in the Far North.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why the Gold Coast Titans and Titans 4 Tomorrow?

The Gold Coast Titans operate a purpose built high performance training facility that is world class and, through this strategic partnership, NorthTec students may have the opportunity to visit this facility and have access to the professionals who work in it.

The partnership will provide the opportunity for selective NorthTec students to gain international experience via training placements with a professional sporting franchise.

In addition, the partnership will provide an opportunity for professional development and training for both NorthTec and Gold Coast Titans staff.

NorthTec and the Gold Coast Titans have a shared vision/values regarding youth development. The Titans 4 Tomorrow community programme was a draw card for NorthTec as it could have positive impact on Northland youth.

2. What is the start date for the Graham Lowe Sports Performance Centre?

13 October 2014 is the current projected start date for the Graham Lowe Sports Performance Centre. This will allow for students to begin off-season/pre-season training programmes alongside their academic study.

3. Who will be eligible for admission to the Graham Lowe Sports Performance Centre?

The initial intake will be made up of both male and female students between the ages of 16 –19, who do not have a Level 2 academic qualification. These students will probably have an interest in pursuing a career in sport and will have shown some sporting potential during talent identification sessions.

As the sports performance centre develops, the intention is to provide pathways for students who wish to study at a higher level, to also be involved in the performance training component of the programme.

4. How many students will be going through the programme?

We plan to have an initial intake of up to 25 students.

5. What will they be studying?

The initial intake of students will be enrolled in NorthTec’s Certificate in Vocational Studies. This will be delivered in a sport and recreation context.

6. Where will it be based?

Initially the centre will be based in Whangarei. The intake of students will be from the wider Northland region. If the initial intake is succesful the intention is to expand the programme to run in the regions.

7. What facilities will they use?

The centre plans to utilise a variety of quality training facilities in the Whangarei area.

The educational delivery will be based at NorthTec’s Raumanga Campus and the ASB Stadium in Kensington.

8. Is the sports performance centre just a rugby league academy/NRL player factory?

No. The intention of the centre is to network with other sports and develop strategic partnerships with other professional organisations to provide quality opportunities for Northland youth.

The centre is about providing an environment where talented Northland youth can gain an understanding of what it takes to become a professional sportsperson. They can gain a meaningful qualification whilst still being able to stay as close as possible to whānau and remain connected and supported through the entire process.

The centre intends to keep students in Northland for as long as possible in order to best prepare them for their future, sporting or otherwise. It is not designed to be a player production line nor send players away if they are not ready.

9. Are the NZRL or the NRL supporting this venture?

The NRL and NZRL are supportive of this venture. NZRL recognise there is no direct competition between the Graham Lowe Sports Performance Centre and any planned NZRL academy programmes.

10. Who is funding the Graham Lowe Sports Performance Centre?

The educational components of the centre will be funded by NorthTec.

11. What other sporting codes are you working with?

We are currently in the process of networking with various sports and hope to have further announcements regarding strategic partnerships in the coming months.

12. Who will be managing the centre?

NorthTec will be providing the management for the centre.

13. Does this link to the Educare Northland Sports Talent Hub that NorthTec is involved in?

Whilst there are some similarities between the Graham Lowe Sports Performance Centre and the Educare Northland Sports Talent Hub programme, the objectives and structure are different.

The Educare Northland Sports Talent Hub caters for a small cohort of high performance athletes identified as being future New Zealand representatives and monitors their development with monthly sessions over a 12 month period. Often these athletes are already engaged in education and often high achievers academically. The focus is on the high performance athletic development.

The Graham Lowe Sports Performance Centre is a full-time programme, focused on both education and athletic development, with physical training and skill development before and after classes. This programme targets those who have displayed some athletic potential but are either disengaged from education or at risk of becoming disengaged.

Any synergies could potentially involve combining for guest speakers or special events. Participants in the Pathway to Podium programme who choose to enrol at NorthTec may be able to join the sports performance cohort if it fits their Pathway to Podium programme.


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