Whitirea merger must keep Porirua presence
Whitireia polytechnic’s presence in Porirua is threatened by its partial merger with Petone’s WelTec, warns Porirua City Council.
It is also concerned a decision on the merger will be made behind closed doors.
The council has expressed strong concerns about the polytechnics’ proposed partnership in a submission to Whitireia Community Polytechnic and WelTec.
In June the two polytechs released a proposal to form a ‘‘strategic partnership’’, which will see them remain independent financially but merge some courses, services and administrative functions.
The partial merger is a result of tertiary education minister Steven Joyce appointing four joint board members to the two institutions last year, including a shared chairman, former National MP Roger Sowry. The partnership is estimated to save the polytechs $2 million per year.
Porirua City Council would be ‘‘greatly concerned’’ if the partnership reduced courses in Porirua or moved them elsewhere, its submission stated.
‘‘ The plans to consolidate the Whitireia site in Porirua may represent plans to limit or reduce Whitireia’s presence in our city.’’
Whitireia’s decision in 2009 to move its performing arts centre from Pataka to Vivian St in Wel- lington was given as a worst-case example of what could happen under the partnership.
‘‘ The programme was closely identified with Porirua and we think the profile loss has been to the detriment of the city.’’
Local students, especially those on low incomes, would have serious access issues if courses relocated out of Porirua, the submission warned.
The council supports a single governing body for the two polytechs but ‘‘would like to see the retention of local identity, programmes and services for the respective communities’’.
In a council meeting last Thursday, chief executive Gary Simpson said they are still in the dark about many details, including the timeframe of the partial merger.
He said they have been told by Whitireia more information would not be forthcoming until the end of the year.
Council senior economic development advisor Sakirin Sapeas, who prepared the submission, said the council was not offered the opportunity to make an oral submission to the polytechs, and was worried a decision should not be made without proper public consultation.
Kapi-Mana News tried to speak with Mr Sowry but was asked to send written questions to the Whitireia council. As we went to press, a response had not been received.