Stakeholder News | December 2021

 We’ve reached the end of another year and I’m sure you, like all of us here at Tai Poutini Polytechnic, are looking forward to taking break over the summer holidays. It’s been another year of change as we respond to new pandemic challenges and get used to new ways of working. The reform of the tertiary vocational training sector across New Zealand has obviously been a key focus for us in 2021; there are still a lot of unanswered questions but we are working alongside Te Pūkenga to advocate for the West Coast and seek benefits for our learners and employers. Thank you to everyone who has contributed in different ways to this work in recent months. And thank you to all of our community partners for working with us through another great year of events, activities and initiatives that make the West Coast a great place to be.
Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete me te Tau Hou,
Alex Cabrera
Chief Executive


One-off designs attract attention at annual student exhibition

Darryn Rae with one of his display cases at the Left Bank Art Gallery for the 2021 Jade Exhibition

West Coasters enjoyed catching a glimpse of the region’s emerging art talent at this year’s Tai Poutini Polytechnic Jade and Hard Stone Carving Exhibition.
Running for two weeks from late November, the exhibition was an opportunity for students to showcase their work from the past year, including carved jewellery and sculpture. As usual, visitors were able to take one‐off pieces of art home with them as the work was on sale.
Tutor Sheree Warren says this year’s students have produced another exciting exhibition where visitors can see their progression through the design and carving process.
“It’s been a great year for our carving programme, as we work with students to hone their skills, expand their design minds and help them prepare for a career doing what they love,” she says.
Held at the end of every year, the much‐anticipated exhibition is an opportunity for students to showcase their efforts over the year and gain experience presenting and selling pieces in a real world environment. Tai Poutini Polytechnic’s carving programme is unique in New Zealand, with budding artists learning not just the technical skills they need for their careers, but also the practical side of presenting work, liaising with galleries and engaging customers and visitors in their designs.
“I’m sure visitors to this year’s exhibition were once again delighted by the designs and work on display. There are plenty of new ideas and pieces to look at and we’re always look forward to welcoming everyone to the annual exhibition.”
Along with carving pieces for the exhibition, students this year have been busy on a one‐off project to gift a limestone sculpture to the town. The Polytechnic is contributing to the Greymouth CBD Beautification Project by donating a student‐made sculpture that uses the elements to reflect the West Coast.



Record Outdoor Education students move into jobs in changing industry


Alex Booker - winner of the 2021 Cave Creek Excellence Award

Tai Poutini Polytechnic celebrated its 2021 class of Outdoor Education students at a special closing ceremony for the programme in November .
Tutor Zak Shaw says it was a unique event this year, with Covid‐19 precautions affecting not just the ceremony but also changing the industry in which they are starting their careers.
“We’ve certainly had to make some changes in the last couple of years, but industry adjustments to changes in domestic tourism means our graduates are still in demand for jobs around the country. Ninety‐six percent of our diploma students from 2021 are moving into jobs, while most of our certificate students are returning next year.
“There are plenty of job opportunities out there – we actually don’t have enough graduates to fill all the jobs our industry partners are coming to us with. This is a good position to be in for our students and it reflects the work we’ve done to make the training relevant to the job market and prepare our graduates with the people skills and the practical skills they need to safely manage outdoor experiences for their customers,” he says.
The 2021 Tai Poutini Polytechnic Outdoor Education Closing Ceremony acknowledged the hard work of students and recognised some outstanding examples of success. As part of the ceremony annual student awards were announced, they included:

  • Cave Creek Excellence Award – Alex Booker – awarded to a student who displays excellence in both the academic and practical aspects of the programme.

  • Tim Jamieson Medal – Dayla Ward – celebrating an individual who brings Whanaungatanga and Manakitanga to the sport of kayaking.

  • Sam Rainey Award – Jack Gibson – awarded to a student who is a natural leader who possesses a highly skilled and motivated character, is reliable and empathetic towards others.

Zak says it was a special event this year, with the key themes of resilience and the growing diversity of the industry coming through.
“We maintain very close relationships with industry and employers so we’re tapped‐in to the needs of outdoor educators and tourism operators around the country. We are well aware of the affect of Covid‐19 on the industry and the need to be resilient, adapt to changing circumstances and handle unpredictability is all part of the programme. Despite all that, the industry is strong with domestic tourism, so it’s fantastic to see our graduates launch into their careers.
“We also celebrated high numbers of female graduates, with more than half our students women who are now heading to work in what was traditionally a male‐dominated industry.
“It was particularly pleasing to hear what our students had to say about their experience at Tai Poutini Polytechnic. Of course they all enjoyed the adventures and trips into the wild outdoors, but it’s actually the stories of personal growth, self‐development, gaining confidence and leadership skills that they talked about being the real highlights of their learning journey.”


West Coast schools signing up for the Dragon's Den


Grey High Principal Samantha Mortimer and teacher Lara Thompson, celebrate with Dominic Cate and Joel McKay of Papatūānuku Sports Kits  - YES West Coast Regional winners for 2021

West Coast high schools who want to get a taste of the Dragon’s Den can sign-up now for next year’s Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme.
Tai Poutini Polytechnic partners with The Young Enterprise Trust each year to bring the year-long programme to West Coast high schools. Teams of high school students are challenged to come up with a business idea, prepare a business and marketing plan and launch their product or service to the local community. Local mentors help along the way and the year ends in a final Dragon’s Den-style pitch to a panel of judges.

Polytechnic Tertiary Liaison Coordinator Jade Mahuika says it is always an amazing experience for the students and schools from around the West Coast. Schools are welcome to enter as many teams as they wish.
It’s free once again for schools to enter the year-long programme, with Development West Coast (DWC) funding the cost of entry fees.
“We recently hosted our first-ever West Coast final pitch and awards event which was a great opportunity to bring everyone together and celebrate the hard work of the students over the past year. Teams pitched their business plans and activity over the year to our panel of judges, who were hugely impressed with the student’s achievements,” she says.
“We’re pleased to be able to bring the programme to the West Coast again in 2022 and we’re hoping that, thanks to the ongoing support of DWC, we’ll be able to reach more schools and more teams than ever.”
Development West Coast Chief Executive Heath Milne says the organisation is proud to sponsor the West Coast Young Enterprise Scheme.
“By asking students to plant a seed of their own creation and nurture it all the way through to the end-user, YES develops an entrepreneurial mindset and pushes the students to understand and actively engage in the whole of the supply chain.
“It was inspiring to see the level of business acumen on display at the recent pitch night in Greymouth. It can be daunting to present and take questions at an event like that and they all did an excellent job. The participants from across the region have shown that the West Coast is in really good hands,” he says.
The YES programme is an opportunity for senior secondary students to unleash their inner entrepreneur and experience the start-up world first-hand. Through the experiential programme students set up and run their own business through the course of a school year, completing five challenges along the way including validation, promotion, a mid-year pitch, sales, and an end of year review. All culminating in the regional and national finals.
Schools interested in getting involved in YES in 2022, or who would like to find out more about the programme can contact Tai Poutini Polytechnic Tertiary Liaison Coordinator Jade Mahuika on 03 769 9495 or email Find out more about YES at


Welcome to summer!


Staff and students made the most of the start of the silly season, with a joint event to welcome summer and share a treat.
Picnic blanket and beach balls decked the halls at Tai Poutini Polytechnic’s Greymouth campus on December the first for the Welcome to Summer event, with hot chips and ice blocks for everyone.
Polytechnic Tertiary Liaison Coordinator Jade Mahuika says it’s nice to take a moment out with students and staff and enjoy our first taste of summer before the holidays.