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Street: New Arts and media block for NMIT

24 July, 2008
A new Arts and media block for NMIT

Maryan Street

Good afternoon and thank you for having us here today.

As Associate Minister of Tertiary Education, it’s great delivering good news to an institution that is doing wonderful things in its region.

The Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology has a proud educational history. Its origins date back more than 100 years, to 1904, when it opened its doors as the Nelson Technical School.

Back then it was widely recognised that New Zealanders needed more than the theory of academia, they also needed the practicality of technical training and education. The Nelson Technical School’s offerings were as innovative and responsive as they are today with classes including commerce, cookery, engineering, woodwork and plumbing.

Even before the Nelson Technical School opened I understand 200 applications for enrolment were received. The town schools’ committee urged the Government to enable the gift of land from the City Council for the school building to be used at once.

Even a requisition for brooms could not be met and was forwarded to the Education Board.

For over a century this institution – the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology as we know it today - has concentrated on meeting the tertiary education needs of its region and has maintained its emphasis on applied and vocational education.

NMIT is one of our most geographically isolated institutes of technology. It plays a vital role in meeting the tertiary education and training needs of the ‘top of the south’ population. So, NMIT plays a very significant part in the region’s strong economic and social development.

Most recently, NMIT has risen to the challenge of the tertiary reforms and embraced the opportunity further to meet the needs of its students, the wider community and other stakeholders in the Nelson-Marlborough region.

The education delivered by NMIT has changed considerably since 1904. But it’s fair to say that many of the buildings have not.

For too long, staff, students and the community have struggled on with a largely aged and cluttered campus. Many of the current buildings are more than a century old and require significant maintenance in the short term; even then they would be barely suitable in the longer term for 21st century teaching needs.

NMIT’s aim is to offer programmes and services of the highest quality. The development of the highest quality facilities is an important goal for NMIT. The Government is delighted to support NMIT in pursuing this goal and today’s announcement by the Prime Minister is reason to celebrate another significant step.

NMIT’s new buildings will totally transform the campus.

This new block will provide our aspiring artists with an inviting and inspiring learning environment whether they are studying visual arts, creative writing or digital media.

But that’s just one side of the story. The flexible nature of the buildings will mean the spaces can be easily used for a range of programmes and activities, and classes of varying sizes. These changes catapult the learning environment here into the 21st century.

It’s not all just about great, new buildings – although that’s fantastic news.

Managing the public purse is never far from a Minister’s mind and as all homeowners know, new, low maintenance facilities lead to substantial long term savings.

With a renowned arts community and more than 350 working artists, the arts sector here contributes an estimated $25 million a year to the ‘top of south’ economy.

Throughout New Zealand the arts scene in Nelson-Tasman has iconic status. Your increasingly vibrant and diverse community and its profusion of beautiful arts and crafts, are a valued part of our national identity.

Many of this region’s local artists, artisans and designers are graduates from NMIT’s arts and media courses at diploma and degree level programmes. Others operate in important roles in arts infrastructure.

The future poses many challenges and opportunities for NMIT. These include attracting more students and making further changes in response to the needs of business and the wider Nelson-Marlborough community.

Your plans also include a new partnership with Nelson School of Music, further development of creative programmes; enhancing delivery in viticulture, and developing programmes such as aged care, retail training, business and commerce, risk management and agriculture.

You are ambitious about the future. This is to be commended.

The pragmatic and visionary approach of your staff and Council stand you in good stead.

I will follow your progress with great interest.


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