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Stakeholder News | October 2022


Kia ora koutou,

We have taken the next step in New Zealand’s Reform of Vocational Education and, as of 1 October 2022, we are now Tai Poutini Polytechnic, a business division of Te Pūkenga. The detail of the reform continues to roll out and I’d once again like to thank all of our West Coast partners who have worked with us through the process and what this means for our region. While this is a change, we’re still working to business-as-usual and I encourage those thinking of enrolling in 2023 to contact us and sign-up now. We’ve had another busy month on campus with staff and students once again involved in community fundraisers and we’re looking ahead to another great AgFest event next month. We’ve taken a cautious approach to the lessening of Covid-19 restrictions, but have welcomed the next stage of what has been a massive pandemic response for all of us. I look forward to seeing you all out and about over spring.

Ngā mihi,
Alex Cabrera


Next stage of national education reforms

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The national Reform of Vocational Education continues at pace, with Tai Poutini Polytechnic making the transition to the new Te Pūkenga model in October 2022.

Chief Executive Alex Cabrera says the local community and students are not likely to notice any significant change while work continues to roll out the new model.

“We have been supportive of the intent of the reforms since their outset. As a relatively isolated and disperse region, the previous system of vocational tertiary education has not worked well for the West Coast; we are encouraged by the intention of the reforms to bring equity to all learners and ensure New Zealand’s regions are supported going forward.

“A big thank you goes to all of our staff, students and community partners who have worked with us through the reform process to ensure the best possible outcome for the West Coast and, ultimately, see continued access to relevant, quality vocational training in our region.

“The reforms are still underway and, as of 2023, all of New Zealand’s 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics and nine Industry Training Organisations will be known as Te Pūkenga. We’ll continue to deliver the same high quality training on the West Coast that meets the needs of local students, employers and industry. We’re already working on a range of pilot projects and initiatives that aim to make the most of the reforms for our region, and we’ll keep working in that area.”

As one national network, Te Pūkenga aims to provide flexible, career-focused learning that fits around students’ lives – on-the-job, on campus and online. Te Pūkenga has a significant transformation programme ahead and has prepared a Transition Pathway to set out the direction needed to design the future of Vocational Learning in New Zealand.

Te Pūkenga’s establishment and transformation programme aims to:

  • bring New Zealand's Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) and transition Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) into a single institution
  • transform the network, its delivery models, its Te Tiriti o Waitangi relationships, its physical and digital presence, and its engagement approaches
  • actively manage the provider network, so we can continue to operate effectively during the transition period.

The Te Pūkenga Transition Pathway, identifies a range of workstreams to make the change happen. These focus on the operating model, transition for learners, organisational performance, employment, key systems and assurance. The Transition Pathway supports a methodical approach to the scale of the challenge ahead, with key milestones to ensure deadlines are met.

You can find out more about Te Pūkenga and the transition at www.tepūkenga.ac.nz


Enrolments open for 2023 West Coast training programmes

Enrolments are now open for all of Tai Poutini Polytechnic’s popular training programmes in 2023, including outdoor education, trades, cookery, tourism and hospitality, jade carving, agriculture, the NEW Horticulture programme and many more.

Chief Executive Alex Cabrera says there’s been a lot of work underway in recent months as the roll-out of the new national vocational training model gains momentum, but learners should not notice significant changes at the outset apart from a change in name.

“We’re working closely with our community and with Te Pūkenga on the detail of the new system to ensure the needs of the West Coast’s employers and learners are met. But, apart from a name change from next year, learners will go on learning as they have previously.

“We understand the changes can raise questions or cause confusion for what this means locally – we’re reassuring West Coasters that programmes will continue running just as they always have, as long as we have people enrolling – which has always been the case.

“Clearly there are some questions being raised about exactly what the new vocational training model means for the West Coast, but this is just part of the process. The intent of the reforms is to retain vocational training options in the regions and we are very much open for business in 2023 – so I encourage West Coasters to start thinking about their career options and where they are headed next year.”

Learners can head online to www.tpp.ac.nz to look at all the training options and flexible learning opportunities available on the West Coast in 2023. You’re also welcome to visit the Coast Connect Employment and Careers Hub at the Greymouth campus, where you’ll get help to look at your career options and support for training and job applications in 2023.

To see what programmes are on offer for February 2023 intake visit here.


West Coast agriculture training pilot makes system work for learners

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Agriculture tutor Bryan Harris training students on the Reefton farm

West Coast agriculture training providers have embraced the intent of national vocational education reforms to create a sector-leading approach to primary industry training that makes it easier for students to get to work. Eighteen months into the pilot, those at its heart talk about turning the system on its head to make a difference for their students.

Looking out over the green pastures of Tai Poutini Polytechnic’s Reefton farm, Bryan Harris can see his students growing week-by-week as they gain the skills they need to get to work.

“This is the best bit of the job for me – watching them gain competencies and grow from shivering, scared kids to confidently driving a tractor and working with cattle. It’s a different journey for each of them and we’re really focusing on each student to make it work for them.”

Eighteen months into a pilot programme with the Primary ITO, which sees the two organisations working hand-in-hand to tailor agriculture learning to the student, Bryan says the idea is really starting to take off. The ground-breaking new partnership embraces the intent of the national Reform of Vocational Education. Launched by Tai Poutini Polytechnic and Primary ITO at the beginning of 2021, it aims to put the needs of the learner first.

Traditionally, polytechnic students would learn basic skills in the classroom and in the field to get ready for work, while the ITO worked with employers to support apprentices already on the job. The new pilot programme effectively brings together the two approaches, meaning that learners on campus can go into work as soon as they are ready, then transition to the in-work programme in a supported and coordinated manner. Those on-the-job now have access to support and pastoral care to help them succeed.

As you can imagine, Bryan says, the training organisations have themselves had a learning curve to shift to a completely new way of working.

To read more visit here.


First West Coast horticulture students growing their skills

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Green-fingered West Coasters are already signing-up for the second intake of Tai Poutini Polytechnic’s new horticulture training programme in 2023.

The new programme was launched earlier this year as part of the Westport-based Conservation Training and Employment Hub, in response to local demand for skills. Tutor Jennifer van Beek says the first students have had a wide range of interests, from those keen to put their skills to use in their own garden, through to others going on to further training ahead of career in the horticulture industry.

“We’ve had 11 students through the programme this year, based in Greymouth and Westport, and I’ve already got people contacting me about next year’s delivery. It’s a fascinating programme that covers a wide range of topics from really practical things like propagation right through to soil science. The students have particularly enjoyed our practical sessions where they’ve been able to propagate and take home their own plants to grow.”

Jennifer brings more than 15 years’ experience in horticulture to the programme, through roles spanning native nurseries, garden centre retail, nursery wholesale management, setting up a native plant business and, most recently, establishing a Westport blueberry farm with partner Dave that’s growing year-on-year.

“I’ve always loved horticulture; I grew up on a farm just out of Hokitika and learned a lot from my family, especially around native plants, the properties of different plants and what they can be used for.

“Horticulture is such a wonderful and wide field and we cover a lot in the full-time programme. So whether you’re interested in market gardening, retail, home gardening, wholesale, orchard work, lab-based scientific work, landscaping or anything else horticulture-related – this is a fantastic place to start learning.”

The programme also considers the wider issues of conservation, such as horticulture to support green economies, the benefits of riparian planting and other environmental impacts.

“We have a diverse range of students starting from late teens right through to those in their 50s. Some of them want to learn a bit more so they can garden at home, growing their own food and propagating their own plants, right through to those who want to go on to study landscape design and work in the industry.”

Learning is flexible for students, with a blended delivery approach using online learning materials and the iQualify online learning platform both developed by the Open Polytechnic, alongside Jennifer’s practical and class sessions in Greymouth and Westport. The mix of online and face-to-face delivery continues to be refined as the programme progresses and student needs are assessed, alongside demand from local employers which was the driver for introducing training through the Conservation Training and Employment Hub.

Open Polytechnic Chief Executive, Dr Caroline Seelig says the online learning specialist is pleased to be able to collaborate and support this blended delivery model with regional network partner, Tai Poutini Polytechnic.

“West Coast learners can study online to complement their on-campus learning in the Horticulture programme giving them greater flexibility. Tai Poutini Polytechnic can benefit from the work we have already done to create great learning materials, using them to meet their learners’ needs. As we come together as part of Te Pūkenga we believe there will only be greater opportunities for collaborations like this”.

Key skills covered include: growing plants from seeds and cuttings; how plants function; soils and fertilisers; selecting and pruning; identifying weeds and pests; recognising diseases; planting for different environments. To learn more about the Horticulture programme visit here.


We look forward to seeing you at Agfest

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We are looking forward to seeing you at this year Agfest on the 14th and 15th of October at the Greymouth Aerodrome.

We’ll be kicking off Agfest with a paddock to the plate BBQ as well as fun challenges with hot prizes up for grabs!

Take the opportunity to come and chat with us about the programmes we have on offer - anywhere from Civil Plant, Automotive, Horticulture, Carpentry through to Agriculture.

Try your luck at the Carpentry hammer challenge, test your fence knotting skills or try beat the fastest time to change a tyre with the Automotive programme. There will be heaps for other challenges to get involved in. We even have our Horticulture programme onsite planting seedlings.

We’ll see you at Agfest!


Focaccia fundraiser makes 456 buns for Life Education Trust

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Cookery West Coast Trades Academy students Catrin Grant, Tierley Wilson, Desiree Jensen and Daniel Williams with Tania Gibson -Trustee of Life Education Trust West Coast and Grey District Mayor and Suzi Taylor - Executive Officer of Life Education Trust West Coast.

A marathon four-hour effort by cookery students has seen 456 focaccia buns baked in support of Life Education Trust West Coast.

Led by Tai Poutini Polytechnic tutors, West Coast Trades Academy students baked the focaccia buns as part of their training assessment, then bundled them up for sale with all proceeds going to support the Life Education Trust on the West Coast. The $750 raised was presented to the Trust under the watchful eye of mascot Harold the Giraffe and Greymouth Mayor Tania Gibson.

A big effort was required to prepare the buns, with 40kg of flour used to make the dough which was then scaled, rounded, flattened, proved and finally finished with olive oil, rosemary and freshly milled salt for baking.

Culinary Arts Tutors Evelyne Baumgartner and Mitesh Moharajan say it was a true joint effort, with all students pitching-in over the four-hour bake, then handing the finished buns over to Café Skills students to manage the distribution process.

To read more visit here.



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