Witt lets students pick 'appropriate attire'

MICHELE ONG
Last updated 05:00 22/03/2014
tdn grad stand
CHARLOTTE CURD
Witt staff Terehia Newton, Danny Hall and Tracey White show off the graduation regalia options.

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Don the time-honoured graduation regalia or slap on a pair of jeans - Witt graduands can now choose to dress up or down for their capping ceremony.

About 140 of its graduands for the May ceremony have the option of wearing a black graduation gown, or a korowai, or come dressed in "appropriate attire".

Traditionally, both degree and diploma graduands were required to wear a black gown while smart daytime attire applied to its certificate recipients.

But Witt's council ruled at its Wednesday meeting that graduands could choose to graduate in an attire they were most comfortable in.

Witt's Maori head Tengaruru Wineera said its Maori students preferred to graduate wearing their korowai.

"A lot of them don't want to wear the black gowns," Mr Wineera said. "They would rather wear their traditional or contemporary korowai."

The cost of hiring a gown had put some students off from attending the ceremony, he said.

"They have to front up $70 so they say just send it [the qualifications] in the mail," Mr Wineera said.

Chairwoman Mary Bourke asked for some light to be thrown at the issue surrounding graduation regalias. "Does the sky fall in and we'd be all struck by a bolt of lightning if we don't wear a black gown for graduation?" she asked.

Ms Bourke said it was not about "what frock one wears" but equipping students with the right skills for employment.

TEC investment manager Axel Laurs, who sat in on the meeting, said wearing the graduation regalia was a "great old medieval tradition".

"I guess the whole thing is about choice. I don't think it should be a compulsion issue."

However, council member Malcolm Inglis was concerned students would show up in jeans and jandals on their graduation day.

"I want to know the boundaries around what attire we would expect."

Graduand Sharyn Smart said she would be donning the full regalia for her ceremony in May as the event was a very formal affair.

Creative arts student Vallance Wrathall welcomed the policy: "It means I can wear a korowai and also won't have to spend money to hire a gown."

Hospitality student Charlotte Maxwell said also she preferred the korowai as it represented her Maori roots.

Accounting student Gavinder Grewal has another five years to go before graduating but said she would be donning the full regalia. "It makes the ceremony more official and it [the gown] looks good," she said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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