In 1999, with the millennium approaching, Whitireia provided assistance to small businesses uncertain about the effects of the Y2K bug, while a former Whitireia music student rode to fame and glory as one fifth of True Bliss
Founding Whitireia kaumātua Ihakara (Ken) Arthur was recognised for his services to the community when he became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZOM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Another degree was added to the list of Whitireia programmes with the launch in October of the Bachelor of Information Technology, ready for students in 2000. The degree had four main areas of study: software development, information systems, computer hardware and communications. It was based on the Bachelor of Information Technology taught at the Central Institute of Technology in Upper Hutt, who in turn were one of five polytechnics that had taught the programme originally developed by Waikato Polytechnic.
School of Computing head, Trish Brimblecombe, said that the degree had been developed to meet the demands of employers, as well as both domestic and international students. With a business focus and a high practical component, the degree was to focus on producing graduates who were either work ready or had the academic base to continue into post-graduate study.
The degree marked a significant development for the teaching of computing at Whitireia which ten years prior had begun with fifteen students on a twelve-week course, and now had a student body of 250 students studying across two campuses, with intakes in February and July.
Whitireia is one of the fastest growing tertiary institutions in New Zealand. This year it has expanded beyond the Porirua and Kāpiti campuses to include Wainuiomata and Midland Park in central Wellington.
The polytech focuses on national qualifications and careers with a future. Every course has, at its core, an industry advisory group to provide advice and ensure that all courses lead to jobs.
The eight new courses planned for next year include:
Whitireia also offers course choices ranging from the Bachelor of Nursing to business and management diplomas. In the arts, Whitireia has a reputation for crafts design, Māori art, performance and rock music courses or alternatively, training for a career in adventure tourism, publishing or video production.
Jeremy Rose, a City Voice founder and former arts editor, is moving from the coal face to the chalk face.He has become Whitireia Polytechnic's new journalism programme co-ordinator, replacing former Dominion and Listener editor Geoff Baylis.
He will be responsible for teaching and administration of the polytechnic's journalism programme. Teaching is not entirely new to him. "I've run an Access pre journalism course, which had everyone from drops outs to MA graduates on it."
Now Mr Rose's attentions are directed towards matters closer to home - the 18 aspiring journalists who begin their training in less than three weeks. Mr Rose has a simple goal for this year's students. "I'd like to give people a thorough grounding in the basics of journalism, so they are able to work in the media industry."
The referendum on whether membership of Whitireia Polytechnic students' association should be voluntary or compulsory has been delayed.
This follows an agreement between student president Wiremu Bayliss and polytechnic chief executive Deirdre Dale. Ms Dale says the polytechnic council and the students' association have always enjoyed a positive relationship, working together to ensure the best services for students. "We have valued the work of the students' association over the years and we want to make certain those services continue for the benefit of students," says Ms Dale.
A copy of Kupe’s anchor stone was laid in Whitireia Park at a ceremony on February 16 1999. Ngati Toa Kaumatua Ken Arthur said a karakia (blessing) over Maungaroa (Kupe’s anchor stone). Whitireia Park Board member Makere Reneti said she was happy the stone was close to the original site: “It’s in its proper place.”
The ceremony was attended by Whitireia Park Board members, representatives from the conservation department and Titahi Bay residents. Ms Reneti said; “It was a spiritual meeting. It was rather moving, simple, but very moving.”
The original stone rests at Te Papa in Wellington.
Students at Whitireia Community Polytechnic voted to retain the compulsory membership of their students’ association. Student association vice-president Michael Dunkerton said students voted decisively – by 290 votes to 81 – in the recent referendum to retain the status quo.
The referenda, required by legislation passed by Parliament last year, give students the option of making association membership voluntary.
Former Whitireia Polytechnic student, Joe Cotton, one of the five girls chosen to form the pop group True Bliss, suddenly found herself in the national spotlight. An Auckland radio station poll voted Joe as the favourite of the five girls. Despite Joe’s now busy and mostly out-of-town schedule, she still makes an effort to pop into the store when she’s down from Auckland.
Joe attended the three-year rock music course at Whitireia Polytechnic. Programme manager of the course Manny Abraham says: "We are really excited one of our students has broken through the threshold."
Joe went into the course with a talented voice and has gained a lot of experience from singing in bars around Wellington, he says.
"If you can be a servent of the people, you are very lucky," says Elsdon resident Ken Arthur. Mr Arthur's service to his people was rewarded with a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZOM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Mr Arthur, of Ngāti Toa and Te Atiawa descent, has been a kaumatua and adviser to a number of organisations over the last 30 years, including the Royal New Zealand Police College, Porirua City Council and Whitireia Polytechnic. He says the role of kaumatua is to provide advice on tikanga (language) and kawa (protocol), as well as to speak for his iwi on the marae.
Mr Arthur has come a long way since he was given to grandparents to look after. “They told me of the importance of serving your people,” says Mr Arthur. Born and raised in Taranaki, Mr Arthur has lived in Porirua for the last 45 years. Modest about his achievements, Mr Arthur says he was unsure about accepting the honour when he was first approached.
A new Whitireia Polytechnic course aims to build links between Māori and the business world. Over 20 students will begin the Paerangatiratanga (Māori Business Administration) programme for the new semester.
Whitireia Te Wānanga Māori staff member Whiti Makowharemahihi says the course is designed to fill a need within the community. Mrs Makowharemahihi says there is a “huge gap” between the numbers of Māori and non-Māori managers in the workforce. Mrs Makowharemahihi says the first instalment of students will study Te Reo and Tikanga Māori, the Treaty of Waitangi, office and management issues within a Māori perspective.
The second stage of the programme was to commence next year, she says.
A mural depicting locals scenes was recently installed at Kemp Home Hospital in Titahi Bay. This work is part of the students' commission programme, undertaken by level seven graduate students at Whitireia Community Polytechnic.
The student's brief was to beautify the dinning room and bring the outdoors indoors for the elderly residents. It takes the form of a collage using old photographs and drawings of the bay area to re-create scenes of a bygone era. Fishing nets in the lower, carved section of the mural reflect the lifestyle of the area. Whitireia (Mount Cooper) and the other hills in Whitireia Park contrast with the seascape. Paint supplies for the mural were kindly donated by local company P & Z Decorating Centre of Lyttelton Avenue.