|NEW ZEALAND'S EDUCATION
A historic agreement cementing in place the construction of a $40 million university campus for Tauranga has been hailed as the start of a new journey of economic development for the city.
John Cronin, who helped drive the project during his four terms as chairman of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, said the downtown campus would define Tauranga in the same way as the development of the port.
"It is putting Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty on a new journey of economic development," he said.
Mr Cronin was celebrating the signing of the heads of agreement by members of the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Partnership, who have forged a unique agreement to reduce the drain of young people out of the Western Bay to attend university.
He said afterwards that the campus would never have happened without contributions from TECT, the Tauranga City Council and the regional council. TECT and the regional council have pledged $15 million each to construction costs, while the city has supplied the land in Durham St.
"The energy and enthusiasm of the campus will transform the city centre," Mr Cronin said.
The partnership is a collaboration between the University of Waikato, the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Rotorua's Waiariki Institute of Technology and Whakatane's Te Whare Wanaga O Awanuarangi.
Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said the project dated back to former city mayor Nobby Clarke, who in the early 1990s raised $30,000 for a study on tertiary opportunities.
"It will be a total game changer and not only for the CBD."
Degrees offered at the campus would complement the importance to the region of logistics, food services, high-end manufacturing and business management.
Waikato University vice-chancellor Professor Neil Quigley said it was about the "aspirations of the communities where our children grow up".
The university will contribute up to $10 million in fit-out costs for the buildings, with the Government's Tertiary Education Commission agreeing to fund the lecturers and other staff.
Among those singled out by Professor Quigley for special mention was Bill Wasley, who he said had been working on the vision of the campus since 1995. "It shows that good things take time."
TECT trustee Bruce Cronin said the $15 million grant was the biggest in the organisation's 22-year history of community grants that totalled nearly $300 million.
"This is the end of the beginning. Now the real work starts," he said.
University deputy vice-chancellor Professor Alister Jones told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend that marine studies students would be moving between the Sulphur Point field station and the campus.
Some courses would be unique to the campus and, although the university was looking forward to offering a more comprehensive suite of courses, it would not replicate everything offered at the Hamilton campus.
About 500 full-time equivalent university students were expected to continue to attend the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic's Windermere campus.