Whi­tirea merger must keep Porirua pres­ence

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

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.

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