Unwavering commitment to our studentsDecember-2015
Dr Jim Mather says that in spite of its growth, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa remains true to its initial intent: to provide quality, targeted tertiary education to its students.
Dr Jim Mather, Chief executive, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa
The driving force behind Te Wānanga o Aotearoa taking in and guiding teenagers discarded by the mainstream education system was simple. The fledgling organisation wanted to make a difference to those young people by reconnecting them with their Māori culture whilst helping them to realise how education could provide better outcomes and transform their lives.
Thirty years after Te Wānanga o Aotearoa was established on old swampland on the fringes of Te Awamutu in 1985, our organisational values have not changed, and neither has our commitment to our students. We’ve woven our unique korowai of education around them that embraces our Māori language, culture and aroha.
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa has provided education to thousands of students in many communities in a welcoming and inclusive learning environment that has helped our organisation grow from humble beginnings. We have developed from a provider of opportunities for a handful of Māori students from Te Awamutu College to a national organisation delivering quality, targeted programmes to 32,000 students every year throughout Aotearoa.
This growth has seen us expand from a single delivery site to running 93 courses at 120 independent, fully resourced sites in 80 locations across New Zealand.
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is now New Zealand’s second largest tertiary institution (based on equivalent full-time students), with more than 250,000 students having completed some form of study with our organisation.
From our perspective, the most significant impact each tertiary education provider can make is to deliver tangible and credible skills and qualifications for our students in a rapidly changing environment. This approach will require us to all recognise that we are part of an interconnected tertiary system with significant contributions to make.
The absolute focus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is to become an even stronger student-centric organisation, all of which is encapsulated in the statement ‘Inspiring Success’.
Amongst other things, this means that we will strengthen support to our students by investing heavily in developing leaders within our organisation who have a common understanding of our expectations, purpose and strategic focus. An integral part of our recent organisational transformation programme was the creation of a new division called ‘Ratonga’, whose sole purpose is delivery of excellent student support combining many functions that had previously been on the periphery of other divisions. We are enhancing our responses to the needs of our students by streamlining the service we provide for them, from enrolment through to the way we deliver our courses.
We are making the pathway for student progression in our organisation more transparent. These changes will also see increased delivery in our degree and masters level programmes.
By 2020 we will have developed partnerships with other tertiary organisations to further diversify our programme choices for our students.
We also hold aspirations to launch our first doctoral programme whilst continuing to deliver our unique brand of education that is based on taking education to our communities and being relentlessly committed to ‘inspiring success’.