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Ara Officially Joins Te Pūkenga Fold In Multi-campus Ceremony

Colleagues from Ara Institute of Canterbury, Primary ITO and BCITO gathered on Tuesday afternoon to mark the occasion of Ara officially joining the Te Pūkenga fold.

Primary ITO and BCITO had already transitioned to Te Pūkenga last month and are both now located onsite alongside Ara’s southern campus. They joined current and former Ara staff to watch a livestream of the Titiro Whakmuri, Kōkiri Whakamua Our Stories, Our Past, Our Future event held in Christchurch at midday on Tuesday.

The ceremony featured powerful speeches by Ara and Te Pūkenga representatives, the dramatic presentation of a toki (a symbolic axe) from Te Pūkenga to Ara as a symbol of the union, and a video showcasing the institution’s 121-year history.

Te Pūkenga’s Board Chair Murray Strong expressed gratitude to the Ara community "for what you have done and what you are about to deliver," he said. "My request to you is that you continue to do what you do, and that you are open to the possibility of what an entire country can do together."

Leonie Rasmussen, Ara’s Director of Southern Campuses, said it was good to mark the occasion simultaneously and reflect on more than 100 years of education from Arthur St, starting as Timaru Technical School.

"We’ve had seven different names since 1901," she said. "But the thing that hasn’t changed, the core of what we do every day, is training for industry and transforming lives through education. We look forward to another century of successful educational delivery in South Canterbury in our journey as Te Pūkenga," Rasmussen said.

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Andrea Leslie, Primary ITO Executive General Manager Education and Engagement, now a former Ara Board member who previously held the Primary Industry Portfolio in the Aoraki Polytechnic era, said it was a significant moment.

"It’s a momentous day to be on campus here," she said.

"This Timaru campus is close to my heart. It’s a special place. We’ve achieved amazing things here and been able to enhance so many lives through learning and we will continue to do so."

Leslie, who has dedicated 30 years to vocational training, says the reform of vocation education will lead to greater accessibility and a seamless experience for students, whether they are in the classroom or workplace.

"With the amazing people we have in the network, Te Pūkenga is well placed to deliver consistent outcomes and certainty for employers," she said.

Rasmussen agreed the day marked an exciting new era in tertiary education for the region.

"Te Pūkenga will be New Zealand’s largest tertiary provider, connecting a network of skilled professionals and building the future workforce together. While any change will have its challenges, the opportunities for our future learners are varied and exciting."

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