Wintec’s focus on learner success is generating a cultural buzz
Around 1,400 students joined staff this week at two pōwhiri to welcome them on their first day at Wintec.
For students, day one of their study journey is a day like no other. At Wintec, this is recognised, and a significant drive to support learner success saw more students than ever before gather for two special Māori cultural welcomes to mark the beginning of their study year.
The welcoming pōwhiri at Wintec’s Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa Marae and the Wintec Rotokauri campus are not new, but Chief Executive, David Christiansen is proud of this year’s turnout which enabled him and Wintec’s Māori Achievement team to personally welcome many new students on their first day.
“We had around 1,400 new, local and international students join us at two pōwhiri events this year, which is a record number. This says a lot about the importance of our Aotearoa New Zealand culture and the influence of our Māori staff, who are reaching out to welcome and support our students,” says Christiansen.
“We’re encouraging matauranga Māori (learning) and tikanga (customs and traditions) as an important part of the student and staff learning journey here at Wintec and we’re very privileged to have such a beautiful marae on our campus. Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa Marae is central to the cultural experience we offer at Wintec.”
Wintec will hold its graduation ceremonies in March. Three traditional large-scale events are held at the Claudelands Events Centre but a growing number of students, including international students, have opted for the Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa Marae graduation ceremony.
This year a second marae graduation ceremony has been added to cope with the numbers and to ensure Wintec’s Māori and Pasifika students can graduate at a marae event that holds great value for them.
“Having a marae on campus is particularly heartening for our Māori students. At Wintec, they are supported by a marae environment, along with kaiāwhina (Māori support staff) across our centres and last year, we developed Tuakana – Teina, a student mentoring network across selected programmes” adds Christiansen.
Last year, around 14,500 students were enrolled at Wintec’s five campuses in Hamilton, Thames and Ōtorohanga. Learning can be a blend of online, block courses and on-campus.
In 2019, Wintec took part in Ōritetanga, a flagship project for the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), to develop a framework to better understand the needs of students.
The TEC recognises learner success is successful to a thriving New Zealand and that the education system needs to reduce barriers, particularly for Māori and Pasifika learners, that affect their ability to study.
Christiansen says the results from student journey mapping being carried out by the Wintec Ōritetanga team are now having a wider impact on shaping culturally-centred retention strategies for learners.
“Every student’s journey is unique to them and it is being shaped long before we meet them here at Wintec, so the way we support students is multi-layered. The work we have done so far is incredibly valuable and it means we can pave the way for a better student experience,” he says.
“Learner success is a big focus for us.”
Wintec’s Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa Marae is multipurpose, where students and staff can conduct and experience teaching, learning and pastoral support in a uniquely Māori environment.
Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa Marae takes its name from an area famous for its rich, fertile lands and gardens that linked the network of Waikato sub tribes (hapū) who lived along the banks of the Waikato Te Awa (the Waikato River). Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa means the smooth or fertile belly of Kirikiriroa (Hamilton). Recently the site and its significance has been highlighted with the completion of Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest mural, completed in January this year by Te Whētū Collective on the wall below Wintec. The wall protects the last remains of the hill known as Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa which was bulldozed in 1939 to make way for Garden Place.