Well led, well developed, and never losing the plot

Well led, well developed, and never losing the plot.

Well led, well developed, and never losing the plot

Over the years MIT has been blessed with excellent leadership from a group of Chief Executives (CE) who each marked their time with significant developments and increased identity within the community.

The first CE, John Dick, was responsible for seeing the establishment of Manukau Technical Institute (MTI) which opened for teaching on 1 February 1970 and later with an official opening on 22 July 1970. Typically, the first students were in full-time employment and as a result many classes were held in the evenings. John Dick was tenacious in his striving to establish MIT as a stand-alone institution that existed beyond the shadow of Auckland Technical Institute from which part of its portfolio of programmes which were once only taught in the city, had a presence in the south. Its student body consumed 200 EFTS, was taught by 11 staff and was housed in a single multi-storey building  (“A Block”).

But MTI was growing rapidly. The government of the day had a vision that “MIT would be the first of a number of satellite technical institutes from which students would move on to 'Mother ATI' for more advanced work.” Both John Dick and Bob Willyams had a different vision – one of a fully fledged institution serving southern Auckland.

The next (and longest serving) Chief Executive, Bob Willyams, led MTI from 1980 to 1996. It flourished as the communities of the south expanded creating a demand that called for an even wider range of programmes with growth at both foundation and higher levels. In 1987 'MTI'  became 'Manukau Polytechnic' and in 1995, 'Manukau Institute of Technology'. It was during Bob Willyams tenure that MIT developed into a vocational and technical education institution that catered for the full range of disciplines and careers. After 1992 polytechnics were able to teach their own degrees and MIT was well placed at that time to meet those challenges.

Dr Jack MacDonald followed Bob Willyams. He was a Canadian academic well experienced and qualified in tertiary technical and vocational education at a tertiary level. At that time tertiary institutions in New Zealand were benefiting from funding on volume and the provision of short courses helped fuel some of the buoyant growth of the late 1990s and the first half of the 2000s. MIT led the field in the provision of these short courses. There were resources for meeting community needs, for new buildings and initiatives and from 1996 through to 2004, Dr Jack MacDonald worked to address the emerging demands of Māori and Pasifika communities, Ngā Kete Wananga opened building on the work of Māori staff.

MIT benefited from the leadership and guidance of Dr Geoffrey Page for too short a period of time. Dr Geoffrey Page (2004-2006) had previously worked in key high level roles furthering the development of New Zealand Crown Research Institutes and the commercialisation of science in an Australia university setting. But health issues intervened and it was a sad time for MIT when he passed away in August 2006.

During the last several years for Dr Jack MacDonald’s tenure and throughout Dr Pages’ time there had grown a dialogue between the Manukau City Council and Manukau Institute of Technology, significantly prompted by Sir Barrie Curtis (Mayor) and our successive our Chief Executives through that period, urging the presence of a tertiary institution in the centre of Manukau.

The arrival in 2007 of Dr Peter Brothers as Chief Executive from a career as an engineer, University Faculty Dean of Engineering and wide practice in the USA in both tertiary education and building management, saw progress in the realisation of the dream for the city centre¹. MIT under Dr Brothers’ leadership developed a robust set of practices benefiting from his wide experience. The development of MIT Manukau quite rightly loomed large during this period but there were other key developments such as the development of the MIT Tertiary High School (the School of secondary Tertiary Studies) a most significant development in NZ Education and the establishment of the Pasifika Community Centre. Dr Brothers served between 2007 and 2016.

And so to the present. Gus Gilmore has followed a stellar career with Air New Zealand managing elements of the company and leading major developments internationally with a period of time at the Tertiary Education Commission. He has brought new perspectives on administration and management that are positioning MIT to respond to the changing tertiary environment post-ROVE, lifted the quality of communications within MIT and encouraged collaboration across the ITP sector as it faces the new environment. 

Restructures have remodelled the faculties into schools and clusters of programmes have settled into three campuses (and the presence of the NZ Maritime School as a smaller fourth presence in Auckland Central): Otara, MIT Manukau and a new development, TechPark. This major facility for the teaching of trades and engineering will be state-of-art and its position across the road from MIT Manukau gives MIT a major footprint in central Manukau.

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