Stakeholder News | September 2021

I hope that you’ve been coping well in your bubbles. The national Alert Level 4 lockdown announced on Tuesday 17 August came as a surprise for most of us, although we all know we’re living with an amount of uncertainly in these Covid times. For us the focus has been on the wellbeing of our staff and students, providing them with the support they need to stay well in their bubble and understand what the rules mean for all of us. As you will be, we are starting to prepare for an eventual move down alert levels, making sure we follow all Government advice and make it clear what that means for everyone. When we get to the right stage, there will be information for those of you who visit campus regularly about contact tracing and extra steps we need to take. We’ll keep in touch and look forward to seeing you again sometime soon.

Alex Cabrera
Chief Executive


Gradual return to classroom begins 

As New Zealand south of Auckland moves to Alert Level 3, Tai Poutini Polytechnic is carefully planning a move back to the classroom.
 
For now, most of our students will continue to learn online using distance learning tools and remaining in regular contact with tutors via phone or video meetings.
 
At Alert Level 3, some programmes can be run on campus, where there are no other options (this includes students in workshops or other hands-on learning).
 
We won’t be welcoming our community partners back on campus just yet, but you may see some more activity. When we do return to campus, we will adhere strictly to all directions from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health. Keeping everyone safe and healthy is our top priority in the coming weeks.
 
We’ve been in touch with students this week to outline who might need to return to campus, and the rules they must follow. These include:
 

  • Classes are limited to “bubbles” of up to 10 people (including tutors and students). You must not mix with other bubbles.
  • Strict social distancing and hygiene practices will be followed.
  • Strict contract tracing is in place on campus and will identify which bubble you are in and where you have been.
  • Clear entry and exit points will be set for people allowed to access campus.
  • All communal facilities – such as the tearoom and atrium – remain closed.
  • Anyone who is not a student/staff (or essential maintenance contractor) should not go on-site at a tertiary education facility.
  • Face coverings or masks are required when on campus.
  • At-risk and vulnerable people (or those caring for/living with vulnerable people) should remain at home unless they are fully vaccinated.

 
We’re looking forward to welcoming our community partners back to campus one day soon. We’ll keep in touch with news and updates in the meantime.


 West Coast Covid-19 recovery discussions underway 

Tai Poutini Polytechnic met with West Coast mayors and rūnanga chairs at the end of August to plan for the region’s Covid-19 recovery.

Leader – Engagement Mequa Hourston says learnings from the last major lockdown show that businesses and employers are expected to be significantly affected by the ongoing restrictions and uncertainty. Training or upskilling in new areas can be key to helping industry recover.

“We know that last time, many businesses needed support to deliver even during some of the lower alert levels, while some individuals had to start thinking about retraining or extending their skills in certain areas.

“There were also initiatives like the Government’s fees free training in trades and apprenticeships that need to be explained and leveraged for our community.

“As the region’s largest provider of vocational education, both to school leavers and for people already in work, Tai Poutini Polytechnic is being proactive about what the lockdown means for our region. Part of our role is to create community connections that support learning pathways, so we want to start by understanding how this lockdown has impacted our community. That’s why we started with our mayors and rūnanga chairs, then we’ll promote collaboration and community partnerships with other providers and agencies to help respond to any issues that are arising.

“As we are now part of Te Pūkenga, our national tertiary education provider, we have a mandate to support our community’s training and employment needs, and can access national resources and support to get behind regional initiatives such as this,” Mr Cabrera says.

Grey District Mayor Tania Gibson says the lockdown has, once again, been tough on the local community.

“We know some businesses and individuals will struggle to come out of the lockdown and they may need to look at other career paths or new training needs. It’s good to be talking about these things now so we can support our community in the coming months.”


Polytechnic connecting West Coast communities 

Tai Poutini Polytechnic is the West Coast’s largest tertiary and vocational training provider, but we’re more than a polytechnic. We celebrate our partnerships within the community – you might have seen our recent piece in the local newspaper introducing our community engagement team and highlighting some of the work we do in the community.
 
The article can be found here.

Community connections support learning pathways

  • High school liaison – we have a dedicated Secondary Tertiary Liaison Coordinator to build strong relationships with secondary schools, teachers, careers advisers, students and more.
  • Employers and businesses – the West Coast is a unique region and our local businesses are always looking for staff with the right skills to do the job. We seek industry input into our programme development, talk to local employers and work to build partnerships with business so we’re meeting local needs.
  • Community support – the strength of our community is in our people. Our community engagement team actively seeks the input of community groups and agencies to support local initiatives.

 
Using connections to create community benefits
Te Pūkenga is reimagining vocational training and putting learners at the centre of our work. Being part of the reforms means Tai Poutini Polytechnic has access to more resources, more opportunities for partnerships and the ability to be more innovative for our community.
 
We’re playing a big part in the sector reforms, testing new ideas and being proactive with initiatives. Being part of the change means we can help secure the future of training on the West Coast.
 
Career Hub connects community 
The Coast Connect Employment and Careers Hub creates opportunities for Coasters to connect, create relationships and find jobs. The Hub is open to the public at Tai Poutini Polytechnic’s Greymouth campus and you’re welcome to drop in any time.
 
Hub staff also spend time out in the region, talking to industry representatives, high schools, local employers and businesses to find out what skills they are looking for and help get local job seekers prepared for real jobs. We’re always keen to talk, so if you haven’t heard from us, give us a call on 0800 CCNNCT (0800 226 628).


Staff and students make an impact in Westport 

Tai Poutini Polytechnic staff and students got behind the Westport flood recovery in August by baking and selling cupcakes to contribute to the Buller Mayoral Fund and offering free access to campus computer facilities.
 
The fundraiser was a great success, with Trades Academy cookery students, supported by tutors, baking 320 cupcakes. Along with some generous donations they were able to raise $1121.10 to help those affected by the floods.
 
We’ve also been welcoming people to our Westport campus for free use of computer facilities to help them deal with insurance matters or whatever they need.
 
Our enrolments in Westport are looking very positive with a good number of new students enrolled in existing programmes and our new Digger School Civil Plant local offering. The start-date of the programme was delayed, however we’ll have more information soon for students.


 Polytechnic Supports Save-a-Life Project 

 

Tai Poutini Polytechnic’s Greymouth campus is the latest place to benefit from the Safe‐a‐Life Project – a charity partnership to place heart‐reviving defibrillators at locations around the West Coast.
 
The AED defibrillator was recently installed in the Polytechnic’s Greymouth campus, becoming the ninth regional location including the Regent Theatre, Blackball, Kaiata, Kumara, Runanga, Taylorville, Nelson Creek and a ‘mobile’ unit now cruising the district in the Greymouth Police primary patrol car. The project has also assisted with acquiring AEDs and CPR/AED training, provided by St John, for all of these townships. Paroa School and Blaketown already had 24/7 accessible defibrillators, contributing to an impressive network across the district.
 
The objective of the Save‐a‐Life project, a collaboration between the Polytechnic, Greymouth Rotary and St John Greymouth and with the support of local businesses, was to make Greymouth ‘the safest place in New Zealand to have a heart attack’. Emphasis was on helping townships some distance from the St John Ambulance headquarters in Greymouth.
 
Funding for the project was raised through the construction and auction of a relocatable home built by Polytechnic students and tutors, with fantastic support from local businesses.
 
Polytechnic Chief Executive Alex Cabrera says the Institute’s ongoing collaboration with Rotary charity projects is a great example of the West Coast working together for the good of its people.
 
“We’re proud to support the Save‐a‐life project and especially grateful to all the local businesses and suppliers who get behind our carpentry student house project each year,” he says.
 
Rotary President Catherine Moffatt says the Save‐a‐Life project has been hugely successful despite delays caused by Covid lockdowns and social distancing impacting delivery of CPR/AED training sessions.
 
“While it took more than two years, the Rotary‐led project has now gifted 24/7 accessible defibrillators to Greymouth and towns throughout the Grey District, and around 1,000 people in the District have received CPR/AED training through the great work of St John. We are delighted to continue our Rotary/Tai Poutini Polytechnic collaboration to bring significant benefits to the community.”