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Turia: Whanganui School of Design Graduation

Whanganui School of Design Graduation Ceremony

Tuesday November 27, 2007; 10am

Royal Whanganui Opera House

Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party

[check against delivery]

As I was looking over the School of Design materials this morning, one phrase immediately jumped out at me: “The School of Design is an alternative voice in design education”.

I am a huge fan of the possibilities inherent in an alternative voice.

The Maori Party is itself, an alternative voice in politics, a proud and independent Maori voice in Parliament.

We know that in every speech we stand to give, in every question we raise, in every letter we write, that our difference is distinctive; our unique advantage generated by the kaupapa and tikanga which drive our party forwards.

And so I was excited by the invitation from Professor Hazel Gamec to come here today, to honour and congratulate 66 stunning new graduates for the alternative voice you have achieved.

I know too, that this school has an impressive international reputation for the experimental edge it nurtures in new media and graphic design.

Confirmation of that fact is evident in the knowledge that today, 32 international students will graduate with bachelor degrees and post graduate diplomas of computer graphic design.

And who could expect anything else, when we recall Professor Gamec was recently recognised with an International Educational Award of Excellence for outstanding innovation and achievement in design education over the past 36 years.

A brilliant career one could say – as indeed Icograda, the International Council of Graphic Design Associations did when they presented the award at the World Congress in Cuba.

I think it is appropriate today, to really acknowledge the stunning impact Hazel has made in creating a graphic design school which over twenty years of passionate investment, has become one of the premiere institutions of Aotearoa.

The international x factor is also what one could say is the qualification you graduate with today – the innovative technologies and transferable skills you leave UCOL with, will transport you to the global economy.

Indeed ‘the world is your oyster’ – a phrase which derives back to Shakespearean times, in his work, the Merry Wives of Windsor.

If one thinks back some four hundred years to the days of the Bard, and contrasts the world stage of 1607 with that of 2007, one can get some idea of the incredible scope of change that has characterised the evolution of culture, arts, history and identity.

The pen and paper are fast becoming obsolete as we build new knowledge in graphic design studios, experiment with interactive computer graphics, or advance further in telecommunications.

And for the talented graduates embarking on their journey today, your world is all the larger because of the skills and creative flair you take to it.

From a cattle farm near Pukekohe, to the depths of Middle Earth, Weta Productions has earnt the status of being one of the world’s top five digital effects houses.

And in the process, Richard Taylor and the team that crafted Lord of the Rings transformed the vision of this land from being rugby, racing and sheep to one of photographers, designers, inventors, artists, entrepreneurs.

Not that rugby and the others were left out in the cold. Remember that massive inflatable rugby ball outside the Eiffel Tower?

Well as part of that exhibition, Animation Research Limited created an animation of the journey of a rugby ball through space, after being kicked into orbit by Dan Carter, it travelled alongside whales, dolphins, earth, clouds, satellite- all on the walls of the rugby ball.

From Paris to the 32nd Americas Cup in Valencia, and New Zealanders are still at the fore. Who would have thought that Ngati Pahauwera revolutionised the America’s Cup?

Well, Ian Taylor did exactly that – applying his 3d graphic technology to the worlds of yachting, golf and cricket. And so, over 150 countries of the globe became connected in real time through the wonder of Taylormade 3d Winged Keel animation to track the race and input data into the television feed at the same time.

Sailing away from Valencia to Venice and again Aotearoa is leading the way in creative design.

Just a few weeks ago, at the World Summit Awards, New Zealand won two categories of excellence in e-content and creativity. Te Puia cultural media exhibits won an E-culture award; and Geneious Pro won an e-science category.

Te Puia is based in Rotorua, and uses 3D game technology and interaction multi-user applications to tell the stories around Whakarewarewa; while Geneious allows scientists to organise and analyse genomic information, connecting to the world’s finest scientific databases, and passing on knowledge with teaching tutorials and plug-ins developed by leading scientists.

But that’s not all…..

Also to receive special mention at the World Summit, proving that we are amongst the world’s best in e-content, were:
- The Kitchen, in the e-Health category;
- Te Kete, in the e-Inclusion category; and
- Cube, in the e-Entertainment category

The Kitchen simulates a commercial kitchen environment, with full touch-screen 3D, to teach the basic principles of food safety and hygiene.

Te Kete is a community-built digital archive of stories and songs and photos and memories – and in fact anything you want to share.

Cube is created by Metia interactive, and is a three dimensional strategic puzzle made for the portable Playstation.

I want to share some of the stories behind Cube as I think it represents something so exhilarating and inspiring about the world of graphic design.

Cube is created by a young woman, Maruhaeremuri Nihoniho, all of 34 years old, of Ngai Tahu and Te Whanau a Apanui and Ngati Porou descent.

She grew up in the South Island, attending Tuahiwi Primary School, playing alongside future Allblack Andrew Mehrtens. That rugby ball just keeps on turning up!

Maru gives all credit to her success to her Mum, Maruhaeremuri Stirling, who constantly told the kids, go outside and make your own fun.

One day little Maru said to her Mum that she wished she could have a doll – and so Mum gave her some play-doh and told her to make it herself.

And before you know it Maru was enrolled in a media design course, learning about graphic design and multimedia, to develop her digital art.

And now four years later, the Cube is starring in the world’s premier contest for innovative information and communications technology.

Italy, France, Spain, Cuba….well all that’s left is Hollywood.

And yes, we’re there too.

At the beginning of this month, Rhonda Kite travelled to LA to receive a special award in the 2007 Hollywood Post Alliance Engineering Awards, for VoiceQ – an unique software package to dub voices onto films and television programmes.

Rhonda – from Kiwa International – won the Engineering Excellence award for a translation package called ADR : automated dialogue replacement. A package which grew out of their work with dubbing Maori language voices onto overseas programmes, for Maori Television.

I don’t want to create the impression, however, that the full impact of your entrepreneurial flair will only be evident in the Oscars, the World Summits, or across international satellites.

Because modern day miracles are also creating the world of difference to New Zealanders right throughout this land.

Earlier this month, the New Zealand Business Internet Award 2007 for Education was won by Te Tuhi a Hiko - a Digital Writing Tool – which is the first interactive writing tool designed specifically for students learning te reo Māori.

And in the same award ceremony, Tiffany Chew took out the Tertiary Student award for her education kiosk aimed at four and five year olds, called Spinobot – to spin about. It’s a tool which has digital, visual, sound, touch and mechanical functions – in short everything every active five year old wants to tutu with.

Tiffany of course learnt everything she knew as a student of the Bachelor of Computer Graphic Design here at UCOL.

The more I looked at the world awaiting you, the more excited I have become about the possibilities that the School of Design has opened up through this course.

The learning you have acquired today, equips you admirably for the world stage, to be leading figures in the digital revolution.

But it has also demonstrated the importance of connections, of relationships, of effective communication.

This programme, in being the first jointly branded degree puts both the University of Waikato and the Whanganui School of Design, firmly on the map in encouraging and embracing collaboration.

The Icograda Indigenous Cultures Project is another way of reaching out in the practice of partnership, through the indigenous culture awareness campaign that is being created, right here.

I am looking forward greatly, to learning more about how Whanganui iwi will be involved in the sensitive and precious sharing of knowledge around indigenous icons and tangata whenua design.

Further afield, there’s the legendary Design Survival Camps, which have called national and international artists together, to create global understandings around design.

The world’s your oyster will soon be coming to us all live, across the internet, via broadcast graphics, in the latest screen based design.

When I was asked to speak to you today, the humble suggestion I was given was to consider opportunities that you as graduates may have in New Zealand’s future.

As I searched and browzed and downloaded and connected and linked my way across your world, I must admit to being completely overwhelmed by such a juicy, succulent, enormous oyster beyond my wildest dreams.

And so I say to you – this school is indeed a precious pearl amongst all pearls. This School is expanding horizons and creating new solutions which will not only advance the future of this nation, but will be changing lives and making a difference throughout the world.

I congratulate Hazel, I congratulate the tutors, the lecturers, the team that make the School of Design happen, and I congratulate the successful graduates and your families for taking the risks, for having the courage and the vision to enrol in computer graphic design.

The World is indeed your oyster – go out there and give it all that you can. You are the alternative voice of excellence.


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