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Investigation into the Māori Performing Arts programmes

Media Release: 1:15pm, Tues 11th November 2014

Date: 11th November 2014

Investigation into the Māori Performing Arts programmes at WITT

Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki, Te Kura Matatini o Taranaki (WITT) has repaid the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) $3,688,573 in relation to the Maori Performing Arts programme.

Two programmes – Level 4 Performance and Level 6 Tutoring – were both offered by Te Wānanga Māori, a department of WITT’s Humanities Faculty.

Chief Executive Barbara George says investigations by WITT, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) have revealed that the courses did not, in all cases, deliver the required number of teaching hours for the qualifications that were awarded, and there were serious flaws in the design, delivery and assessment of the Level 6 programme.

“There is no black and white answer as to how we under-delivered on some of the courses,” says Ms George. “Not all cohorts are involved, but the extent of the problems we’ve uncovered has undermined the confidence in the whole programme.”

“The failure is a result of some individual staff members not behaving appropriately within WITT policy.”

Ms George says the Level 4 and Level 6 programmes have been running since 2009 and 2010 respectively, although the investigation began in May this year following a complaint.

“An investigation was begun immediately into the actions of some staff running and overseeing the course. All those staff members have since resigned.”

“This has been a double failure of those running the programme and those overseeing it, for not following WITT policies and procedures that would have identified the issues a lot sooner,” says Ms George.

“I am absolutely gutted by these events. Everything we do is aimed at improving education outcomes for our students and we have professional staff who work very hard to deliver quality outcomes – this is distressing for everyone at WITT.”

“We responded as soon as we became aware that we had an issue and we acted quickly to put it right and make sure this does not happen again. In addition, we’ve had an independent review of our policies and procedures to make sure other courses meet required standards, and that we learn from this very regrettable matter.”

WITT Chair Mary Bourke says the Council was extremely disappointed when the matter was brought to its attention.

“We did not meet the standards of performance and integrity we set for ourselves and which others expect of us.

“This should not have happened and is something that cannot be allowed to happen again.

“The Chief Executive and the management team acted as soon as problems were identified and we have full confidence in the actions taken so far,” says Ms Bourke.

“As a Council we hold ourselves accountable for making sure we not only have the appropriate processes and systems, but that we make sure they are used.

“This issue is regrettable on many fronts especially because of the high priority WITT places on Māori development, which is one of the three flagship Enterprises/Matataki in WITT’s strategic plan.”

WITT has 240 staff and offers 64 formal qualifications to over 1800 full time equivalent students, and Ms Bourke says 1400 graduate each year.

“We have a proud history and reputation for delivering quality programmes that are relevant to industry, and improve the job prospects of Taranaki learners. We are working with TEC and NZQA to ensure that continues,” says Ms Bourke.

ENDS

About WITT

The Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT) is a quality Government-owned tertiary education institution enrolling around 5,000 students each year in courses from certificate to degree level across a wide range of areas, including Business, Nursing, Hospitality, Māori, Humanities, Media, Art, Electrical, Engineering, Automotive, Welding, Carpentry, Architecture, Computing, Hairdressing, Beauty Therapy, Early Childhood Education, Agriculture and Oil & Gas.

WITT's main campus is in New Plymouth, on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island. WITT focuses its courses on vocational outcomes, and seeks to ensure that graduates are able to enter the workforce successfully or to advance their careers through further education or training.

Website: www.witt.ac.nz

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