Kawerau community still a focus for Toi Ohomai education
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology has reinforced its commitment to help improve the social and economic outlook of the
Yesterday afternoon the chief executives and delegates from both Toi Ohomai and Tuwharetoa Ki Kawerau Health, Education
and Social Services met at Tangatarua Marae on the Toi Ohomai campus to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and
re-confirm the organisations’ mutual dedication to continue their efforts.
The MoU outlines a partnership where Toi Ohomai provides education and training in the Kawerau community so residents
have access to tertiary education locally rather than having to commute to a Toi Ohomai campus. In turn, Kawerau iwi
provide the training sites and pastoral care needed to support the students during their tertiary journey.
“We can’t sit here, in the main centres and wait for those students to come to us,” said Dr Leon Fourie, Toi Ohomai
chief executive. “We need to reach out to the regions, we need to reach out to the communities and create much better
access to education with clear pathways to employment of further studies.”
The partnership, having been in effect for several years prior to the merger of Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and Waiariki
Institute of Technology, has rapidly proved its worth. Last year for example, students, even before they graduated from
the programme, were head-hunted by their local health providers who needed employees.
“From my perspective, this is what a good partnership looks like,” said Dr Fourie to Tuwharetoa Ki Kawerau’s CEO Chris
Marjoribanks during the pohiri.
“A good partnership, where Tuwharetoa Ki Kawerau has the capability and the reach within the community to market Toi
Ohomai’s skills and qualification outcomes, for iwi to provide teaching facilities and pastoral care to our students,
and Toi Ohomai provides teaching staff, technology and learning support, it’s a match made in heaven. It is a
“As a partnership, we are improving access to education and increasing educational outcomes for Māori which leads to
improved workforce participation for Māori, and as a result will increase living standards and prosperity for our
As a lifelong resident of Kawerau, Mr Marjoribanks is known for his passion for his community and his determination to
improve its socioeconomic status.
“Please accept my emotional feelings around this day,” he said, acknowledging Toi Ohomai’s dedication to his community
and relaying how much it means to him to provide opportunities to those who don’t have easy access to tertiary
“I have a degree of frustration around some of the government models of [education] delivery and where we can further
develop and engage with delivery within our communities. I think many of the agencies miss the reality of many of our
whānau’s home environment, there’s a lot of judging as opposed to understanding. But if we can bring education to our
communities and bridge that gap, particularly when it progresses to employment, we can step out of the social dependency
He said what began as a process of engagement with the Kawerau whānau and community in providing opportunities has
evolved into “more structured types of training around the health side which are both better pathways to employment and
deeper learning for individuals.”
The community’s outlook has improved, said Mr Marjoribanks.
“I’m definitely seeing a shift in that area. We’re providing opportunities and solutions for change, and particularly
education has to be a key part of that. There are significant opportunities being available in our community, and that
can be transformational in terms of those whānau lives.”
While the curriculum in Kawerau is necessarily limited at this time, residents don’t need to stop their education
pathway due to logistics. Those wanting to continue their education to higher levels can take advantage of free
transportation to and from Rotorua.
There’s still time for Kawerau residents to enrol for this semester. Courses commence on Monday, 27 February.
Photo caption: Chris Marjoribanks, CEO of Tuwharetoa Ki Kawerau Health, Education and Social Services, and Dr Leon
Fourie, CE of Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, signed a contract to continue a long-standing partnership that brings
tertiary education to Kawerau.
– Ends –