Witt toasts 40 years of service

JOHN ANTHONY
Last updated 05:00 15/12/2012
tdn witt stand
ANDY JACKSON
The first principal of Taranaki Poyltech, Alaric Wilson (1972 to 1989) & Current CEO Richard Handley.

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Four decades of graduates and staff from the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki celebrated a milestone in the polytech's history last night.

About 200 people turned up to the Witt 40-year celebration and launch of the commemorative book at the polytech last night.

Witt first opened as the Taranaki Polytechnic on February 1, 1972.

Last night's celebrations were attended by past and present students and staff, including current chief executive Richard Handley and the first principal of Taranaki Polytech, Alaric Wilson.

Mr Handley said the celebration and the book 40 Years: Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki were to commemorate and reflect the work and achievements of all Witt graduates.

The creators of the book interviewed 24 former students to find out what they had done with their qualifications since graduating.

Such graduates included internationally-recognised hairstylist Patrick Cameron, TSB Bank chief executive Kevin Murphy and international street artist Mikaere Gardiner aka Eno.

Mr Handley said Witt was in a growth stage and that was evident in its graduation ceremony this week.

On Thursday night it had its biggest graduation ceremony yet with 1103 graduates - up 30 per cent on the previous year which, until Thursday, was the largest.

"Witt is certainly a very important part of Taranaki infrastructure and it must continue to serve the Taranaki community," Mr Handley said.

Co-writer of the Witt book Robin Martin said the project was about nine months in the making.

What stood out to him most when interviewing graduates was the recurring message of how important it was to learn a skill or trade. "If you have a skill or a craft you can always fall back on that and put bread on the table and build a life around it."

Co-writer Christine Fenton said the biggest challenge in putting the book together was contacting graduates to profile.

"We wanted to make sure the history was told through the story of our graduates," Ms Fenton said.

Ironically, the hardest type of graduate to track down was a Taranaki farmer who had completed agriculture or horticulture studies at Witt, she said.

"They were all too shy," Ms Fenton said.

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