Bay of Plenty Regional Council Confirms $15M Funding Decision

Media Release

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has confirmed the approval of the $15 million funding application for the development of a tertiary campus in Tauranga’s CBD. The Bay of Plenty Tertiary Partnership applied to the Regional Infrastructure Fund to assist with the development of a university campus experience on land to be made available for this purpose by Tauranga City Council.

The partnership of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and the University of Waikato have been working closely with regional stakeholders SmartGrowth and Priority One to enhance tertiary provision in the Bay of Plenty.  The campus is seen as crucial to lifting the Bay of Plenty’s economic performance.  It will also provide the three institutions with a central base to work together and with businesses and organisations from around the region.   The campus will have a focus on regional innovation and entrepreneurship, and be both nationally and internationally recognised as a hub for teaching, learning and research.

Professor Roy Crawford, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waikato expressed his delight at the success of this first step towards the creation of a new campus in Tauranga and commented: “the University has had a long connection with the Bay and this announcement is a key milestone in our commitment to bringing quality University level provision to the region. We look forward to extending our presence there so the region enjoys the social, economic and environmental impact of being able to study, work and live in the Bay”

Dr Alan Hampton, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Chief Executive, welcomes the confirmation of the funding, saying the approval shows the importance that Regional Council attaches to creating a highly skilled workforce  to take the region forward.

“The approval of Regional Council funding support for the development of a Bay of Plenty Tertiary Partnership CBD campus is an exciting and essential first step to realising the project’s intentions,” said Dr Hampton. “The facility will enable the Tertiary Partnership to enhance the range of academic pathways and research relevant to future regional needs and opportunities.”

“The focus of the partnership is to improve access to tertiary education for all our people of the Bay of Plenty and making Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty a much stronger tertiary destination, nationally and internationally.”

“A growing, connected and vibrant tertiary campus and partnership will also bring a significant economic contribution to the city and region.”

Professor Graham Smith - Chief Executive Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi is also pleased with the news.

“The Regional Councils approval is welcome news for the partnership. This iniative will improve on the gains that have already been made in terms of Maori participation in tertiary education within the Bay of Plenty region.”

Bill Wasley, Chair of the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Education Partnership Steering Group and SmartGrowth is also pleased with the decision from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

“The partnership between regional stakeholders and tertiary institutions is unique in New Zealand, as is the establishment of a campus of this nature.”

“SmartGrowth has been advocating for a university experience campus in the western Bay of Plenty for a long time and the community desire for this was confirmed as a top priority for the region by 37 community meetings organised as part of the recent SmartGrowth review.”

“We are looking forward to working closely with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to progress this, and with TECT who are also considering a contribution to the project” he said.  “An enhanced tertiary education system in the region is a critical part of sustainable regional economic and social development.”

The contribution sought from the Regional Infrastructure Fund is only a proportion of the overall development costs, estimated to be $67.3 million, and the institutions will be investing more than $37 million themselves, says Mr Wasley.

Andrew Coker, CEO of Priority One is also excited about this project for the Western Bay of Plenty.

“Building and attracting a skilled workforce is a key issue facing the region as many industries face major issues as the numbers of older people leaving the workforce increases and less young people are available to replace them.  Bay of Plenty demographics show the importance of supporting young people, and especially Māori, into qualifications.  This new facility will enable the Partnership to increase the numbers of people in tertiary education in the Bay of Plenty studying in areas directly related to employment opportunities.”

“The 2009 WBOP Tertiary Action Plan led by Priority One identified the need for tertiary education and research provision with greater alignment to local community and industry needs.  The Plan also called for a wider Bay of Plenty approach to developing regional tertiary capability.

With confirmation of regional funding for the tertiary development, the region will now be talking to stakeholders across the Bay of Plenty to develop a region wide Tertiary Action Plan.“

Benefits to the region resulting from the approval of this project are significant. With interest already being expressed in the new purpose-built facility from accommodation developers, the case for a CBD hotel and conference centre has been strengthened. The new campus is predicted to generate $133m in regional revenue annually, more than 600 new jobs and an overall increase in Bay of Plenty’s GDP.

Construction of the new tertiary facility is expected to begin in 2016.

Media Release Ends

For further information please contact:

Jennifer Pearson

P: 021 273 4866

E: jennifer@boptertiarypartnership.org.nz