How ITPs outgrew their school uniform

ITPs emerge as institutes that were not to be defined by their origins.

How ITPs outgrew their school uniform

The other day someone asked me how it was that MIT was the first purpose-built ITP while other ITPs claim histories going much further back in some instances over 100 years. The answer is easy – those institutes are adding the periods during which they had lives in a different configuration from that of an ITP. Typically they had an identity as a Technical High School. They were exactly that and had within the school a capability to teach after hours what would now be Level 3-4 technical and vocational programmes and a smaller number of higher level professional courses in their “night school.

My mother and two older brothers went to the Hamilton Technical High School / College (yes, names changed even then in the perpetual quest for status). I and my twin brother were enrolled to go to “the Tech” but intervention from the intermediate school saw us being sent to different schools on the spurious grounds that “the boys are not technical, they are academic!” There was a strong demarcation between the two and the new development of multi-course co-educational high school saw schools with technical departments (but only at school level) as well as languages (including Latin) and other such “academic” subjects.

MIT’s southern area had two such technical high schools with a strong technical bent both as day schools and night schools – Otahuhu College and Pukekohe High School.

MIT was developed solely as a technical institute but that did not free it from the NZ Education Department which ran the school system and had full control of programmes, regulations, funding including those elements of the ITP system. At one point in 1973 a proposal was made for MTI to draw its students from a “zone” in the same way that high schools operated. This proposal, put forward by Auckland Technical Institute, was to restrain MIT to the following area:

“A line runs from Onehunga wharves, up Queen Street Onehunga and across the Harp of Erin, the Greats South Road, thence down the Ellerslie Highway to the Panmure Bridge. Students living on the northern side of that line normally attend Auckland Technical Institute, those on the south side or in the eastern suburbs i.e. Pakuranga, Howick, etc attend Manukau Technical Institute.”

This is purely a school approach at the time including the stupidity of separating sides of a street. MIT successfully repelled the proposal especially the reasons which included the hoary chestnut that ATI offered as part of its argument – ‘MTI suffered from a poor public image due to its location….”.

Actually it was around this time that I did some teaching at MTI. A significant proportion of the student body were fully employed so they attended programmes in the evening – “night school”. I was a teacher of English at that time and the curriculum for a number of the MTI programmes required that the student pass a course called, if my memory is right, Communications English, which included report writing. It didn’t matter which course you were studying, it was a compulsory requirement and the course content was the same for everybody.

This was something of a problem. The requirement for that year was the all students had to write a report on the Rip-Snorter Saw an interesting challenge to those who did not know what a rip-snorter saw was and were likely never again to need, see or use such an implement.

Actually I was not entirely sure what a rip-snorter saw was and was allowed to choose a piece of equipment relevant to their vocational aspirations. ITPs however over the years shed the inappropriate cloak of the school system management and curriculum and mores to emerge as institutions that were not to be defined by their origins. The development of a number of ITPs in the regions followed in the 2-3 years after MIT was established. Some of these were styled as community colleges. When once asked as to what a community college was one official replied that “it is really an ITP with an orchestra attached!”

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¹ Future Golden Jubilee Snippets will relate the story of MIT Manukau., and of the Secondary Tertiary Developments.