On Monday, the day began with torrential rain but cleared towards evening as the opening of Te Auaha, the new home for the arts programmes of Whitireia and WelTec, drew near. Guests were invited to assemble outside the building on the corner of Dixon Street and Cuba Mall, politicians and arts luminaries mingling with staff and students past and present.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was accompanied by Peter and June Jackson of Te Ātiawa and welcomed with a pōwhiri that included wero by Matiu Tahi and waita and haka by Whitireia Performing Arts students and graduates.
Greg Campbell, Whitireia and WelTec Combined Council Chair, addressed the crowd and described the new campus as embodying the spirit of Wellington in one location. "You will feel part of it whether you’re a student or a visitor, or simply a citizen of Wellington," he said.
To open the new campus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke to the importance of arts education. "Arts is critical to creating the kind of young people we need going through our education system, who can adapt to the environment they are about to work in in the future." She opined that an education such as that offered at Te Auaha would set Aotearoa New Zealand and its workforce apart.
As the new home for Whitireia and WelTec arts and creative programmes, the campus offers specialisations in creative writing, circus dance, cultural performing arts, digital media, DJing, film production, hairdressing, barbering, beauty therapy, jewellery design, journalism, make-up artistry, music, musical theatre, photography, publishing, raranga, radio broadcasting, whakairo, commercial dance, stage and screen arts and visual arts.
These specialisation are catered for across the building's six floors in a series of interwoven creative zones that include dance studios and performance spaces, digital recording studios, computer labs, radio stations, film and photography studios, large and small theatres, a cinema, a beauty spa, jewellery workshops, a 3D printing area, and visual arts studios. Visitors were able to explore the various spaces and see them in use, with dancers and musicians performing, radio students broadcasting on Pulse FM, special effects makeup artists creating an amphibious creature, hair being styled, and visual artists completing work. There were also really big balloons on level 4.
Another of the features of the new campus is a gallery which hosted On the Go, a display of work by Whitireia and WelTec alumni, as its inaugural exhibition. Artists included renonwed Whitireia graduates Keri-Mei Zagrobelna, Sam Dollimore, Chloe Rose Taylor, Amelia Pascoe, Becky Bless, Clare Smith, Nadine Smith, Natalie Smith, Matthew McIntyre Wilson, Sarah Read, Camille Walton, Vivien Atkinson, Jennifer Laracy, James Molnar, Caroline Thomas and Nik Hanton. And from WelTec, Lisa van de Meij, Arron Gardner, Deidre Uptoto, Sri Krishna Padmanabham Konakanchi, Ana Xue Wang and York Yu.
The evening concluded with guests returning to Dixon Street for a performance of The Art of Colour, choreographed by Te Auaha ambassador Mahlia Johnston and performed by commercial dance students.