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Business as usual for revamped polytechnic

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Catherine Cooney, new polytech chairwoman. Photo/SUPPLIED
Catherine Cooney, new polytech chairwoman. Photo/SUPPLIED

The board of the newly merged Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic has been named, including chairwoman Catherine Cooney, who says it will be business as usual despite the revamp.

Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and Waiariki Institute of Technology announced last year the two tertiary providers would merge to deliver their services more effectively across the region, with a wider range of programmes and better access for students.

In addition to Ms Cooney's appointment, Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said former polytechnic chairman Ian Turner would be deputy chairman and Rahera Ohia QSM and Ngaroma Tahana had been made members of the council.

We're building on the past successes and excellent work of two strong institutions and creating a region-wide tertiary education institution that can take the whole region forward together.
Catherine Cooney, new chair

"It will continue to be business as usual," Ms Cooney said.

"There are no planned changes to programmes for the foreseeable future outside of normal business operations."

Ms Cooney is director of Kowhai Health Associates and joint chairwoman of Healthy Families Rotorua. She is a Justice of the Peace and former president of the Rotorua and Districts JP Association. From 2001 to 2012 she was chief executive of Lakes District Health Board.

"I'm excited about being at the forefront of this amazing opportunity," she said.

"We're building on the past successes and excellent work of two strong institutions and creating a region-wide tertiary education institution that can take the whole region forward together. It's an opportunity to create excellent learning for future generations.

To ensure every person has access and a choice for an education that provides them with the skills, competence and qualifications to grow our region, all taught within the region. This has a positive impact on them, their families and our communities."

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Ms Cooney said her immediate concern was establishing a full, constituted new council including the appointment of a chief executive.

"Going forward, it will be a case of working through the steps in such a way that it will be a seamless transition to take the institution forward."

She said it was too early to comment on potential staff redundancies but "communication and relationship building would continue to be important in overcoming any hurdles".

Ms Cooney said the new institution would provide a strengthened tertiary offering to the entire Bay of Plenty region, including Rotorua.

"People who live in the region are proud to be a part of the Bay of Plenty. The new institution provides a cohesive approach to tertiary education for the whole region. We're able to build on the growth and development of the Bay of Plenty as a whole, helping to create a vibrant economy and an amazing place to work, live and play, and be educated," she said.

"It provides a real choice for people to achieve their tertiary aspirations living within the community they choose to and for our young people, providing them with the confidence and assurance they need that this is their first choice for their education."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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