End of SIT sponsorship a backward step

Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says her worst fears have been realised with the Southern Institute of Technology ending its long-term sponsorship of Southland’s three professional sporting teams.

“I’m hugely disappointed that SIT has withdrawn this funding support from the Southland Stags, the Southern Steel and the Southland Sharks. These have been positive and collaborative relationships over up to 20 years and I don’t believe the decision to end them is the right one.

“Unfortunately, as I predicted back at the outset of the Government's polytechnic megamerger, there would be ramifications for the province and for SIT and its students, with the loss of local input, local control and the management of local assets and funding.

“I would also point out that SIT had a $2million surplus last year, and yet feels unable to support the Southland community through sponsorship deals like this, and it makes me question what outside pressure or influence has been placed on the board in making this decision.

“As a former CEO at SIT, I was involved in establishing all of these sponsorship deals because I could see the benefit in the relationships - not only for the institute and its students, but also from a marketing perspective in reinforcing the SIT brand and from a social perspective in supporting sport in Southland.

“This to me is a backward step and another example of SIT withdrawing from the Southland community, and the collaborative relationship that once existed, as it prepares to become swallowed up in the Government’s megamerger juggernaut.”