For­mer kayaker takes on lead­er­ship of poly­tech

Taranaki Daily News - - News - Christina Per­sico

‘‘The fact I am new on the Taranaki scene has some ad­van­tages in that I do not ar­rive with any pre­con­cep­tions. I am look­ing for­ward to get­ting to know the re­gion and the peo­ple.’’ John Snook

An in­ter­na­tional kayaker turned ed­u­ca­tion guru has taken the reins of Taranaki’s trou­bled poly­tech for the next two years.

John Snook, who has lead sev­eral other ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes around New Zealand, was the pick of more than 30 ap­pli­cants to take over the role of chief ex­ec­u­tive at West­ern In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy at Taranaki (Witt) in Fe­bru­ary.

Snook said he would watch the poly­tech in ac­tion to start with and lis­ten to staff and oth­ers in­volved. ‘‘The fact I am new on the Taranaki scene has some ad­van­tages in that I do not ar­rive with any pre­con­cep­tions. I am look­ing for­ward to get­ting to know the re­gion and the peo­ple.’’

The 49-year-old, who has signed a twoyear con­tract, said he was aware of how the push for change in the ter­tiary sec­tor could have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on poly­techs, and Witt faced a chal­leng­ing fu­ture as one of the small­est in the coun­try.

Snook re­places Bar­bara Ge­orge, who left in Oc­to­ber af­ter five years. Ge­orge left on a high af­ter a pass mark from the New Zealand Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Author­ity but had a tu­mul­tuous reign, in­clud­ing re­pay­ing more than $3.5 mil­lion to the Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion In­sti­tute Com­mis­sion af­ter prob­lems with a cer­tifi­cate, fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties, and fall­ing en­rol­ments.

Snook, who lives in Ro­torua with his part­ner, has three chil­dren and three grand­chil­dren.

He had pre­vi­ously been deputy chief and act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Wa­iariki In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, turn­ing it into a qual­ity-as­sured or­gan­i­sa­tion, and was a mem­ber of the Uni­ver­sal Col­lege of Learn­ing coun­cil at the time of the Whanganui Polytech­nic merger. Af­ter leav­ing Wa­iariki he set up Ac­tion Con­sult­ing Group Ltd and the New Zealand In­sti­tute of Busi­ness and Tech­nol­ogy, and also launched a TEC-funded bi­cul­tural re­search jour­nal.

He was a top kayaker – rep­re­sent­ing New Zealand at four world cham­pi­onships and also four raft­ing world cham­pi­onships.

Coun­cil chair­man Robin Brockie said the ap­point­ment was an ex­cit­ing one be­cause of Snook’s breadth and depth of ed­u­ca­tional knowl­edge and busi­ness ex­per­tise. ‘‘I was gen­uinely sur­prised by the in­ter­est in the Witt role, given the fact that there is an ex­pec­ta­tion of sig­nif­i­cant change.’’

Act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Lyal French-Wright will re­turn to his po­si­tion as deputy chair.

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