Tauranga's $90 million new university campus will be blessed this week in preparation for the arrival of its first students and staff.

Waikato University's new CBD campus on Durham St will be blessed at a karakia ceremony at dawn on Wednesday.

The first classes will start on Monday.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alister Jones said the ceremony was appropriate to bless the site before students and staff entered, as well as the number of Māori artwork inside the building.


Jones said the laboratories will open first and from there, the building will open incrementally to students, staff and wider community as other parts of the campus were completed throughout the year.

He said enrolments were growing across all teaching subjects, with numbers already up 15 per cent and another 150 yet to be finalised before the official orientation and enrolment week next week, Jones said.

Jones was excited to be able to reveal the first stages of the new campus to staff and students.

"Everyone has worked incredibly hard," he said. "To get to this stage on time and on budget is really significant."

The former head girl and boy of Tauranga's single-sex schools will be among the first students to study at the new campus.

Anaru Palmer and Leah Owen, who were head boy and girl of Tauranga Boys' and Tauranga Girls' colleges last year, will both stay in the city to study at the campus.

Owen has enrolled in a Bachelor of Social Sciences majoring in psychology, while Palmer will be among the first cohort of students in Te Tohu Paetahi - a one-year diploma in te reo Māori taught as a full immersion programme.

The pair met seven years ago in their Tauranga Intermediate accelerate class and both were excited to be able to start their classes on February 25 at the new campus.


"Excited is an understatement," Owen said. "I am over the moon there is actually a campus here. I can't wait to get started."

Owen said she chose to study locally to save on accommodation costs and to be able to keep her part-time job. "It was a no-brainer. It made sense," she said.

The catalyst to study psychology came about when her parents separated two years ago and Owen saw a psychologist to help process the changes happening in her family.

"I want to help people. I want to make a difference in other's lives, mainly youth," she said.

Owen was awarded Te Paewai o te Rangi: The University of Waikato Scholarship for Outstanding Academic Achievement, worth $25,000.

Initially, Palmer was considering a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws at Waikato's Hamilton campus, but changed his mind after discovering the full immersion programme was available at the Tauranga campus.

Of Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui descent, Palmer believed it would be the start of a journey to greater connectedness – to his language, whānau, iwi, tūrangawaewae of Matakana Island, and to himself.

Palmer also received the University of Waikato Te Ara Whānui and Tauranga Campus First-in-Family Scholarships, worth a total of $11,000.

The official opening of the new campus is expected later this year.