Fifty years of teach­ing teach­ers

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

This year has been a ma­jor mile­stone for the Uni­ver­sity of Waikato Fac­ulty of Ed­u­ca­tion, for­merly Hamil­ton Teach­ers’ Col­lege.

In Novem­ber the fac­ulty cel­e­brates 50 years of de­liv­er­ing ex­cel­lence in teacher ed­u­ca­tion with a round of sym­posia, the host­ing of an APEC meet­ing, a stake­holder din­ner, a staff din­ner and a huge re­union for for­mer and cur­rent staff and stu­dents.

Cur­rent Dean Pro­fes­sor Alis­ter Jones said it was im­por­tant to re­mind the wider com­mu­nity just how much the Fac­ulty of Ed­u­ca­tion de­liv­ered re­gion­ally, na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

The Fac­ulty has had many in­no­va­tive firsts over the years – the for­mal merger of the Teach­ers’ Col­lege and the Uni­ver­sity, the of­fer­ing of early child­hood qualifications and dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes, new technology grad­u­ate qualifications and a range of in­no­va­tive ini­tia­tives in Maori medium teacher ed­u­ca­tion, in­clud­ing bilin­gual classes and schools, kura kau­papa Maori and wharekura.

But with­out teacher ed­u­ca­tion the uni­ver­sity it­self might never have come into ex­is­tence.

It was the se­ri­ous short­age of teach­ers in the 1950s that prompted the govern­ment to con­sider plans for a teach­ers’ col­lege in the Waikato re­gion.

And where there was a teach­ers’ col­lege, there needed to be a uni­ver­sity to give stu­dents ac­cess to un­der­grad­u­ate cour­ses.

Ini­tially that task fell to Auck­land Uni­ver­sity which agreed, al­beit with some re­luc­tance, to of­fer two sub­jects – English and his­tory – in the Waikato out­post.

In Fe­bru­ary 1960 Hamil­ton Teach­ers’ Col­lege opened its doors in its tem­po­rary home in what would be­come Melville High School.

Right up to the last moment, the new prin­ci­pal John Al­lan and his 12 staff were sweep­ing saw­dust and wood shav­ings off the floor be­fore the first in­take of stu­dents ar­rived.

A month later the Branch Uni­ver­sity moved in up­stairs from the Teach­ers’ Col­lege.

Mr Al­lan was tasked with de­vel­op­ing links with the new uni­ver­sity – some­thing that had never pre­vi­ously been achieved in New Zealand.

Thrown to­gether by cir­cum­stance, the Teach­ers’ Col­lege and fledg­ling uni­ver­sity shared fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing a staffroom and also com­bined forces in plan­ning a new joint cam­pus on farm­land at Hill­crest.

It was the start of what was to prove a most fruit­ful re­la­tion­ship.

In 1964 the two in­sti­tu­tions moved to their new home. The Hamil­ton Teach­ers’ Col­lege build­ings dom­i­nated the new cam­pus; Waikato Uni­ver­sity, now an in­sti­tu­tion in its own right with six lec­tur­ers, was housed in a smaller build­ing, now A Block.

These days, the Fac­ulty of Ed­u­ca­tion is the biggest fac­ulty in the Uni­ver­sity of Waikato and is rated the top teacher ed­u­ca­tion provider in New Zealand. For in­for­ma­tion on en­rolling for teacher ed­u­ca­tion, phone 0800 WAIKATO or visit

First in­take: The first in­take of the Hamil­ton Teach­ers’ Col­lege, now the Uni­ver­sity of Waikato’s Fac­ulty of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Cur­rent dean:

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