Strolling through the Yard

Strolling past the records of people and their deeds inscribed on stones or bronze placques, blue signs on walls, strolling through graveyards, and cathedrals is one of the joys of travel. In each town there these cryptic records of people and their deeds act as mnemonics of former times and of people who have come and gone. While in cities you find such aide memoires in graveyards and on the walls of old houses, academies and important buildings. In an institution such as Manukau Institute of Technology, some of our history can be documented by the attaching of placques to the walls of buildings.

Below is a record of the opening of buildings and the prominent people who have passed this way.

22 July 1970Rt. Hon. Brian Talboys
Minister of Education
Official Opening of MIT

At the opening of MIT, Minister of Education, the Rt.Hon Brian Talboys, created a stir in outlining the Government’s view that MIT would be a “feeder institution” starting students and then sending them off established polytechnics such as ATI (now AUT). MIT has no such intentions of playing second fiddle and after quite some to-ing and fro-ing locally, regionally, and nationally, MIT became over time a significant and important part of the network of vocational and technical education in New Zealand.

20 June 1978Rt. Hon. R.D.Muldoon
Prime Minister
Opening of C Block

Stage 1 (A Block) and Stage 2 (G Block) were followed by the new C Block (Stage 3). Prime Minister Muldoon opened this building that you might think looks like a building at Unitec. Well, that is because the buildings clustered around C Block were designed for a new campus for Auckland University at Albany. The government was keen on this idea but the University was not, being keen to keep close to the central city action. Later they did build another campus at Albany. It must have seemed to the Ministry of Works that it was a waste of some perfectly good plans and MIT and Unitec both ended up with a set of new buildings that are the same.

30 April 1992Dame Catherine Tizard
Governor General
Library (MIT South Campus)

Dame “Cath” Tizard, a previous Mayor of Auckland City and then Governor General of New Zealand is reported to have delivered a speech that celebrated the building of a wonderful facility that provided not only the services of an excellent library (built around books in those days) and excellent student support services academically.

1993Hon. John Banks
Minister of Tourism
Hospitality (Dine / Etc)

T Block was unique in its days in that it was a block for the teaching, development of the knowledge and skills of the culinary arts, and the practices of great hospitality that was modelled around replicating the layouts and facilities of the hotel industry and a restaurant. Hon. John Banks, another previous Mayor of Auckland but then Minister of Tourism in the National Government, not only opened this facility but returned ten years later to join in the celebration of CHATS (Catering, Hospitality and Tourism School) tenth birthday.

26 July 1995Dame Catherine Tizard
(School of Fine Arts Campus)
Z Block

This building might well have had the distinction of being the only Potato Chip Factory that has been converted into a School of Fine Arts Campus! It was a big campus bustling with creative energy across the Fine Arts, creative technologies and Jewellery. It served MIT well until becoming unfit for purpose in 2017. One of the more bizarre events was when an opossum fell through the high ceiling, landed on a table being prepared for a jewellery exhibition and last seen heading in an easterly direction

23 April 1999Hon. Tau Henare
Minister of Maori Affairs
Ngā Kete Wananga Marae

Manukau Institute of Technology set out to direct energy towards meeting the needs its Māori community and under the leadership of CE Dr Jack McDonalddecided in the mid-nineties to build a marae to expand its commitment and to better satisfy the needs of its Māori staff, students and community. Ngā Kete Wānanga was opened in 1999. It incorporates a wharenui (Te Kete Uruuru Matua), a wharekai (Tahua Roa), classrooms and offices. Te Kete Uruuru Matua is the centre of the marae complex and features 75 individual carvings by Ngati Porou master carver Dr Paakariki Harrison. From the air this magnificent wharenui ossurrounded by the classroom etc al placed to be the shape of a beautiful fish hook.

28 November 2003Rt. Hon. Helen Clark
Prime Minister
B Block (Foundation Studs.)

The Rt.Hon. Helen Clark opened a new and stylish building for the School of Foundation Studies on 2003. The ceremony was noted for both her speech and for the performance by Chief Executive Dr Jack McDonald on guitar signing a country music song. Sir Barry Curtis also showed his enthusiastic support for MIT with a characteristic supportive address.

24 February 2006Hon. David Cunliffe
Minister for Information Technology
Opening of NC Block (ICTS)

Hon. David Cunliffe, Minister for Information Technology, opened the new Information and Communications Technical Services which was built encapsulating one of the existing buildings that was used in the farming activities associated with what is now the Dilworth Centre. But the farm building had become unfit for use so the fundamental structure of the shed was retained and built into a new NB Block. A notable achievement was that all the technical fitout of the equipment, servers, phone systems, and customer service areas, was achieved by our MIT ICTS staff and technicians with no break in services at any time.

22 May 2010Hon. Steven Joyce
Minister of Tertiary Education

Hon. Anne Tolley
Minister of Education
Opening of NZ’s first
Tertiary High School (SSTS)

An important day in New Zealand education. New Zealand’s first and only Secondary / Tertiary High School known internally as the School of Secondary Tertiary Studies was opened with two Cabinet Ministers attending. This unique programme set the parameters in education law that allowed the development of Trades Academies. The introduction of Secondary / Tertiary Programmes has been the most significant development in New Zealand’s secondary education since the introduction of NCEA. The building that was opened was a Ministry of Education building for the Albany Senior Secondary College whose permanent buildings were not completed when the school opened. The building which was built to be dismantled, was transported across the Harbour Bridge to be re-assembled in the ex-Bairds Primary School site.

3 June 2016Hon. Steven Joyce
Minister of Tertiary Education

Hon. Peseta Sam Lotu I’iga
Minister for Pacific Peoples
Pasifika Community Centre

After some years of unsuccessfully seeking funding for an MIT Pasifika fale or gathering hall, MIT decided to convert the NO Wing of the central building on the Ōtara Campus to be the Pasifika Community Centre to fulfil MIT’s promise of a Pasifika Centre. It contains multiple rooms of different sizes, is available to community groups for use and widely used internally by staff and students. Hon. Steven Joyce also opened the MIT Campus when it was completed and Hon. Peseta Sam Lotu I’iga was appointed as Deputy Chief Executive (Pasifika) on his retirement as a Member of Parliament.

Of course, the two newest buildings are not on this list – MIT Manukau and Tech Park. They will be treated in separate snippets.

If you know the exact date of the CHATS opening in 1993 or have spotted a mistake, or know of another placque, drop me a note.

Finally, Manukau institute of Technology is comprised of many buildings than just those covered in this Snippet – in fact pretty well the entire alphabet is represented in the assigning of identities across the campuses including the letter “Z”.

Here is an invitation for you to write about some of these buildings, the stories, the characters, the events and amusing things that happened and the wonderful work completed by staff and students over the years.

Get in touch with me –

Return to MIT's Golden Jubilee homepage.

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