18 Oct 2021

Te Pūkenga says close ties with Māori priority for new operating model

5:22 pm on 18 October 2021

National polytechnic Te Pūkenga is making partnership with Māori a top priority for the nation's 16 polytechnics and institutes of technology.

Informatics workshop at university. Rear view of students sitting and listening in lecture hall doing practical tasks on their laptops.

Te Pūkenga's services, course design and teaching will be grounded in matauranga Māori as part of a new plan. (file pic) Photo: 123RF

The goal headlines a proposed operating model the institute published today.

The model also highlighted partnerships with employers, barrier-free access to courses, and efficient, cost-effective operations.

The document said Te Pūkenga would "give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi in all that we do", provide exceptional learning experiences and equitable outcomes for Māori, and be learner-centred.

"We're going to become and are building the organisation to be authentically bicultural," the institute's chief executive, Stephen Town, told RNZ.

"Already we have significant presence of Māori leaders both on our council and in our senior leadership team and we have developed what is known as a Treaty excellence framework that is already being rolled out to the polytechnic sector and the industry training organisations," he said.

The document said Te Pūkenga's services, course design and teaching would be grounded in matauranga Māori.

It said the institute would meaningfully incorporate tikanga and te reo Māori in its everyday life, which was a government requirement of all education providers.

Town said Te Pūkenga's subsidiaries would make more effort to ensure students did not drop out.

"We're going to be introducing a support mechanism that will start from those earliest of contacts with learners. At the moment there is quite a drop off of learners from the point of application and enrolment to actually arriving at their course," he said.

"We're going to deliver a service that connects with those learners the moment they start to engage with Te Pūkenga. We're also looking to to introduce a mentoring programme that specifically supports Māori learners and Pasifika learners and disabled learners."

Aiming for consistency

The operating model will have courses and programmes in the 16 subsidiary polytechnics which will be developed and managed centrally.

Town said that would ensure courses at the different institutes were coherent and their quality was consistent.

"Instead of being anything from 10 to over 20 different programmes leading to essentially what is a very similar qualification, essentially there would be one, and that means we can focus resource on making that the very best programme that it can be," he said.

He said the approach would create savings and Te Pūkenga was working on national programmes in nursing, social work, and carpentry and infrastructure construction for introduction in 2023.

Town said the proposed operating model would help ensure the polytechnic sector was more stable financially.

He said Te Pūkenga was expecting a smaller deficit this year than originally forecast.

"We're looking at around $40 to $50 million dollar deficit for 2021. That's obviously still subject to the last two-and-a-half months of the year to run. But our polytechnics, in particular, are forecasting a slightly better cash position than we were expecting."

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