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WITT comeback good news for Taranaki

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister for Tertiary Education

7 August 2008
Embargoed until 3pm
Media Release
WITT comeback good news for Taranaki

Tertiary Education Minister Pete Hodgson today announced that the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT) Council would be re-established in October and its Crown debt written off over a five-year period.

“These significant developments show that WITT’s ‘repair and rebuild’ plan is succeeding. These are key milestones in WITT coming back on track to better meet Taranaki’s skill needs,” Pete Hodgson said.

Over a number of years of financial difficulties, WITT received Crown loans totalling $18 million to stabilise its financial position. Its Council was replaced by a Commissioner in December 2006.

“There has been a strong improvement in WITT’s performance with tremendous work and support from the management, staff and the Taranaki community. WITT is now in a stable position and approaching its enrolment and budget targets for 2008,” he said.

“This is a very pleasing result of the government’s support for WITT and commitment to the Taranaki community.

Pete Hodgson also announced his appointment of four prominent Taranaki figures as government appointments to the Council. They are John Auld, Mary Bourke, Marise James and Hinerangi Edwards (biographical details attached). The remaining Council places will be appointments from WITT staff and students, and stakeholder groups.

“The Taranaki community is the winner here because WITT is crucial to the province’s economic and social infrastructure, and this is a big step in terms of re-establishing the community’s full confidence in WITT,” Pete Hodgson said.

A Crown Observer could also be appointed as part of WITT’s continuing transition, dependent on consultation with the newly reconstituted Council.

WITT’s Crown debt will be converted to equity over five years if key financial and educational performance targets in its ongoing recovery plan are met.

Pete Hodgson said the future for WITT now looked a lot brighter: “It has new Chief Executive Richard Handley coming on board, the return of a Council and a clear vision and strategy for the future.”


Government Appointees to Re-constituted WITT Council

1. John Auld is a member of WITT’s Commissioner’s Advisory Committee. He is an experienced New Plymouth solicitor and company director. He is the Deputy Chair of Port Taranaki, a former Deputy Chair of Taranaki District Health Board and past President of the Taranaki District Law Society.
2. Mary Bourke is also a member of the Commissioner’s Advisory Committee for WITT. She is a former South Taranaki District Mayor. She is a member of the Territorial Forces Employer Support Council, a trustee of the Bishop’s Action Foundation in Taranaki, and Chair of the South Taranaki Medical Trust.
3. Marise James is also a member of the Commissioner’s Advisory Committee for WITT. She is chartered accountant and dairy farmer. She is a director of Landcorp Farming Ltd, Farmers Mutual Group and Farmers Mutual Finance Ltd. She is also a former director of Fonterra. She is also on the Advisory Board of Victoria University’s Faculty of Commerce and Administration.
4. Hinerangi Edwards will strengthen WITT’s relationship with local iwi, a key part of its plans. She is of Nga Ruahine, Taranaki Te Pakakohi, Tangahoe, Ngati Ruanui, and Te Arawa descent. She a Director of Paraninihi Ki Waitotara Land Inc, the former chair of the Taranaki Maori Business Development Agency and owns several businesses in Taranaki.

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