Press Release – WelTech and Whitireia
A new major campus for more than a thousand students of film, theatre, digital media, visual arts and other related creative arts and technologies is planned for the heart of Wellington.
The project was announced today by the combined council of Whitireia and the Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec), which plans to develop the multi-disciplinary tertiary centre on the corner of Cuba and Dixon Streets.
Council Chair Roger Sowry said the total site development valued at approximately $80M will bring together a wide range of courses currently offered by Whitireia and WelTec and when it opens in 2018 will make Wellington the destination of choice for domestic and international students seeking a comprehensive education in this sector.
“The new Centre will be an exciting resource for companies and partners in the creative sectors in Wellington and New Zealand. They will be able to test ideas and offer work experience so the graduates emerge with real-life skill and industry knowledge, as well as relevant formal qualifications,” Roger Sowry said. “Industry is having a major input into the design of the centre so we know it will be appropriate for needs.”
Whitireia Chief Executive Don Campbell said it was exciting for the two organisations to combine on the one campus, consolidating teaching and resources in a state-of-the-art facility. “The co-location will allow students to learn across disciplines in a lively, creative environment, providing richer and broader education in industry-relevant skills,” he said.
WelTec Chief Executive Dr Linda Sissons said staff and practitioners would also benefit from opportunities to collaborate. “Working in multi-disciplinary teams will enable the build-up of skills reflecting the diversity of the film and creative sectors and the need to be able to effectively apply those skills across the board,” she said.
The project was also welcomed by Wellington-based Arts and Culture Minister Christopher Finlayson who described it as “very important for the Wellington region.” “I am delighted by today’s announcement,” said Mr Finlayson. “It is great news for Wellington and the institutions involved.”
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown welcomed the initiative. “There is huge economic growth potential in education and creativity and this Centre will be a real boost for the city. It’ll be great to see this heritage building – a cornerstone of the Cuba precinct – become a state-of-the-art facility.”
The Chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council Fran Wilde said it was a visionary concept that would radically alter the education landscape in the region.
Wellington Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Raewyn Bleakley welcomed the initiative as a further enhancement of the city’s already top-quality higher education sector. “This initiative has fantastic potential because it will attract additional local and international students who will then be able to be linked with and retained by our industries looking for their much-needed skills.”
Grant McPherson, Chief Executive of Education New Zealand commented, “The creative industries are key growth areas for the Wellington economy. Internationally the value attributed to the creative industries is high and we have a world class film industry in Wellington. Studying in the Capital will be an even more attractive option for international students with the Centre being a major drawcard for international students who want to study creative media and digital.”
The combined Whitireia WelTec Council has approved the project in principle and is well advanced in the planning stage with property owner Willis Bond & Co. The architect for the base building is Athfield Architects. The fit out architect is about to be engaged.
What will the Centre contain?
The Centre will offer a creative, collaborative educational environment not seen elsewhere in New Zealand, that brings together the outstanding creative technology and arts programmes that Whitireia and WelTec currently offer including: New Zealand Film and Television School, Whitireia Performing Arts Centre, New Zealand Radio Training School and programmes in digital media production and animation, journalism, creative writing, publishing and editing, music – rock, jazz, commercial and DJ, live sound and event production, creative IT, visual arts and design, Māori arts, arts management, jewellery, digital design and multi-media, photography, event management, makeup and hair artistry for film and television.