4 Apr 2023

Audio students, staff in limbo as MAINZ to close

From Checkpoint, 6:07 pm on 4 April 2023

Te Pūkenga - the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology - has made the decision to close the Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand's (MAINZ) campus in Auckland, leaving 39 music and audio students in limbo and 18 tutors out of jobs.

The organisation in charge of bringing together New Zealand's 16 polytechnics said MAINZ enrolments had been falling in recent years and the campus had been operating at a significant loss.

It may be just the start of job cuts across Te Pūkenga, with chief executive Peter Winder saying last week that more than 200 jobs would be axed.

Deputy chief executive Megan Gibbons said the decision to close had come after considering all feedback.

"This is not a decision we have taken lightly and we appreciate the impact it will have on ākonga (learners) and kaimahi (staff) at the campus."

Three years ago, MAINZ relocated from a building on Auckland's Victoria Street West to a new location in Māngere.

The Victoria Street building had remained empty since the move.

Meanwhile, in the January flooding event, the Māngere campus was inundated, ruining the new building and equipment within it.

"We appreciate the considerable input and ideas made through submissions to both help the campus recover from recent flood damage and support a return to ongoing operations," Gibbons said.

"However, the ongoing significant losses at the campus, due to ongoing low enrolments which were compounded by Auckland flood damage, are unsustainable."

Te Pūkenga would provide support to staff and help students to complete or redirect their studies, Gibbons said.

The decision to close reinforced the importance of Te Pūkenga's work with Workforce Development Councils (WDC) to design programmes that both met industry needs and were financially sustainable, she said.

Te Pūkenga would work with Toi Mai, the WDC for creative, cultural, recreation, and technology sectors to achieve this, she said.

MAINZ had 66 people contact them about enrolling this year, with 39 who had officially enrolled. Some of these students had since transferred to other education providers.

Suzette Major, director of SAE, another prominent Auckland audio institute, said MAINZ had been a foundational part of the music scene.

"It's a sad day for the music industry," she said.

Three MAINZ students had already transferred across to SAE, Major said.

Te Pūkenga would pay the difference in fees for students transferring to other providers.

There were currently 18 staff members working at the Auckland MAINZ campus.

Tutor of 10 years Chris Orange said the closure would be a major blow for the music industry.

"MAINZ has got the knowledge, it's got the experience from teaching hundreds of students audio, music, and DJing, for the last 25 years, in the biggest city in New Zealand, where all the jobs are in the music industry, and all the gigs are.

"We know how to do it. You can have a cut-back programme, or you can do it properly, and we do it properly."

Dozens of past MAINZ students had made submissions against the closure, including Grammy-winning songwriter and producer Joel Little, and artists Mel Parsons and Troy Kingi.

The MAINZ campus in Christchurch remained open for courses in audio engineering and production.