Minister and TEC must back Te Pūkenga.

Hau Taki Haere | Tertiary Update Vol 26, No 13

A damaging memo released by Te Amorangi Mātauranga Matua | The Tertiary Education Commission last week has caused fear and confusion amongst staff at Te Pūkenga. The memo highlighted concerns with the organisation’s financial deficit and a handwritten note in the margins by Minister of Education Chris Hipkins demanded that cost savings be found.

But for Tina Smith, Tumu Whakarae | National President of Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union, the memo and the kaupapa that underpins it is representative of old thinking that Te Pūkenga was created to change.

“There is a reason Te Pūkenga was created – the system suffered from chronic underfunding and inefficient competition, so the system was in need of change. Sixteen institutes of technology and polytechnics as well as multiple Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) and Private Training Establishments (PTEs) were competing for the same students. This resulted in under resourcing of students and staff and programmes being shut down that were needed by communities, and worryingly, campuses in the regions being closed or greatly neglected when these were often located in areas with high unemployment.”

“We can’t go back to a corporate model that failed staff and students. The majority of ITO’s have now joined, or are in the process of becoming part of Te Pūkenga and many staff have been involved in creating a vision for a new way of providing tertiary education. We must NOT revert to the failed tactic of cutting staff and courses to balance the books.”

“Change costs and quality tertiary education is the best way to move this country out of a pandemic, to fill the workforce shortages and to improve equitable outcomes for whānau. Chris Hipkins needs to stand up for his original vision for Te Pūkenga.”

Three years ago, Chris Hipkins said “Instead of our institutes of technology retrenching, cutting programmes, and closing campuses, we need them to expand their course delivery in more locations around the country."

Te Pūkenga’s acting Chief Executive Peter Winder has agreed to meet with TEU members on Zoom this Thursday 21 July at noon. The meeting will consist of a 10-15-minute presentation from Peter followed by questions and answers from members. We encourage all our members to attend to be well informed and to ask the tough questions.

RSVP to to receive a Zoom link to this member-only opportunity.

Also in this update:

Other Stories:

What Society Thinks I Do – TEU

It’s on its way – time to shape the final look of the structures of Te Pūkenga – TEU

Struggling students living with 'mould, cold' and on a diet of 2-minute noodles – Stuff

Te Pūkenga scrambles to sort out deficit crisis, while union says organisation 'not broken' – Stuff