In 2015, Whitireia said farewell to chief executive Don Campbell, welcomed a new chief executive for both Whitireia and WelTec, and began the construction of a new central Wellington campus
After nine years as chief executive of Whitireia, Don Campbell retired. Two farewells were held in Wikitoria Katene to mark his departure, the first with members of the wider community and the second with all Whitireia staff. At both events, staff and guests spoke to the impact that Don Campbell had had on Whitireia, while Performing Arts students provided powerful performances.
At Don Campbell's appointment in 2006, then council chair Dennis Sharman had said "The tertiary sector will continue to undergo major change over the next few years. Don’s appointment at Whitireia will ensure that we are well positioned to provide an excellent vocational education for our students and to continue to make a significant contribution to the communities that we serve." This proved a prescient statement and under Don Campbell's leadership the institution grew not just in size, but in quality and reputation as well. The Porirua campus experienced a significant increase in new buildings and site improvements, the Kāpiti and Wellington campuses were relocated, and the Auckland campus was completely refurbished. In addition, under his leadership, Whitireia had consistently rated at the top of national measures for educational success for Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics.
New Whitireia and WelTec chief executive Chris Gosling spoke of the impact that Don Campbell had had: "Whitireia went from strength to strength under Don’s leadership. The Porirua campus was substantially transformed with modern fit-for-purpose facilities (including our outstanding nursing and health facilities) progressively replacing relocatable classrooms that dated back to the 1980s. Don was actively engaged in the growth of international students and represented the sector on a number of national bodies."
Reflecting on his time at Whitireia, Don Campbell noted that the polytechnic was a multi-cultural community institution that had become has become internationally and domestically recognised. "Over the last 10 years it has been transformed into a highly regarded organisation. We've had growth in the quality of education offered, and are one of best for students going on to further study. It's outstanding." He said it was great to see where Whitireia was today. "Starting from humble beginnings to now offering quality education has been a journey of transformation. Whitireia is a lighthouse, a beacon on success. We're a ray of light, leading the way for students."
A development agreement for a new Whitireia and WelTec combined creative industries campus on the corner of Cuba and Dixon Streets, Wellington City, was completed and construction work began. The contract for the fit out of the centre was let to architects CGM+ Foster and fit out design approved. After extensive consultation, the overall strategy for the centre was approved and was said to reflect a bold ambition for a world class, industry linked, community engaged centre which would be truly unique in New Zealand.
A whakawatea blessing ceremony, led by Te Atiawa, was held on site prior to the demolition of existing building, while a ground breaking ceremony was held on 17 August attended by Wellington’s Deputy Mayor Justin Lester, along with members of the creative technologies and arts community, and central government representatives.
In Auckland, another joint campus came into effect with WelTec staff and students relocating from premises in Wakefield Street to the much larger Whitireia campus at 450 Queen Street, with the former WelTec campus being retained for teaching overflow only.
These days it's rare to walk out of study and into your dream job. But that's exactly what Mapihi Kelland did. The 24-year-old dancer was one of more than 300 students who graduated from Whitireia on Thursday. Before she had even finished her final exams, she had been offered a contract with New Zealand's leading contemporary dance group, Black Grace.
She said she was amazed to get in because her cultural dance background did not match the group's classical contemporary requirements. "I don't quite fit the criteria there," she said. "I couldn't believe it and I couldn't believe I was going overseas when I had just finished my course."
The Bachelor of Applied Arts student said she had always wanted to be a dancer, and the last three years of study had given her opportunities to do so.