Te Hautū Kahurangi | TEU today welcomes its new Te Tumu Whakarae | National President Tina Smith.

Tina Smith is senior lecturer of nursing at Te Pae Mātauranga Ki te Ao Universal College of Learning (UCOL) in Palmerston North and has spent over 30 years working in the ITP sector.

Smith has been a member of the TEU branch committee for the last 14 years, served as branch president for six years, has been on the TEU Industrial and Professional Committee for four years, and has been the ITP sector academic representative on TEU’s National Council for the last four years.

Even on Day One Smith faces a range of urgent matters that are affecting the wellbeing of TEU members and the ability of the sector to provide quality public tertiary education to all New Zealanders.

One of the issues is the ongoing response to COVID-19.

Smith says that for many working in the tertiary education sector and their whānau, the summer break has been one of nervousness as institutions – in particular universities – threaten more job cuts due to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 border closures.

The Minister of Education has repeatedly told the universities they need to ride out the impacts of COVID-19 using reserves rather than cutting up our sector.

“As the new National President, I’ll be working with members and sector leaders to make sure we keep the capacity in the sector. New Zealanders need strong universities, wānanga, and polytechnics to respond to the impact of COVID-19 and build back better.”

As well as defending courses, opportunities for learning, and jobs, major changes in the reform of vocational education sector are high on Smith’s mind.

Around 60 staff from across the polytechnic sector are coming to Wellington next week to talk about the operating model needed to make Te Pūkenga leaders and staff deliver on the promises set out in the vocational education reform legislation.

“There is no doubt that there is real effort from the Te Pūkenga leadership to empower staff and that is crucial for the success of the sector. Empowering staff and involving them in decision-making is something we want the entire sector to embrace,” says Smith.

Smith will serve as Te Tumu Whakarae | National President for two years.