Labour’s mega polytechnic Te Pūkenga in disarray

Labour’s mega polytechnic Te Pūkenga is a shambles that couldn’t have come at a worse time amid New Zealand’s growing skills shortage, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Penny Simmonds says.

“We’ve got Chief Executive Stephen Town taking indefinite personal leave, staff reeling against proposed curriculum changes, a $110 million deficit forecast, declining enrolments, a damning Tertiary Education Commission report, and prospects of job losses in the regions to help balance the books.

“Chris Hipkins has spent $200 million on Te Pūkenga and has made New Zealand's vocational education sector worse.

“At a time when New Zealand has critical labour shortages, our major vocational training sector is in dire straits because Chris Hipkins didn’t listen to warnings that his centralised mega polytechnic, Te Pūkenga, was not the right model and was fundamentally flawed from the start.

“Te Pūkenga failings were outlined in a damning report from the Tertiary Education Commission to the Minister earlier this year which contained handwritten comments from Chris Hipkins.

“Chris Hipkins asked what efficiencies they are achieving? If he didn’t know the answer to that, why did he merge the 16 polytechnics in the first place?

“Labour cannot achieve anything. If they cannot successfully merge 16 polytechnics, how on earth can they merge 20 district health boards successfully?

“This country’s polytechnics, their students and staff, and indeed the taxpayers of New Zealand all deserve an explanation from the Minister, or at least some leadership from the man whose idea it was to disassemble this sector."