Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga graduates celebrate at graduation ceremonies

Posted on 29 May 2023

Seven hundred graduates from throughout Aotearoa New Zealand received their diplomas and degrees from the Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, either at graduation ceremonies in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, or in absentia, in May 2023.

Three graduate speakers (one at each ceremony) provided inspirational messages of how their Open Polytechnic qualifications have changed their lives.

Bachelor of Applied Science (Psychology) graduate and Taranaki local, Amie Ward was the ākonga (student) speaker at the Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland ceremony.

Working in science laboratories and previously being part of a team processing thousands of COVID-19 samples during the height of the pandemic, Amie enjoyed her job, but knew her true passion was in in the field of psychology.

During her speech to graduates and guests, Amie shared how she had made previous attempts to enrol in tertiary education, but faced many challenges, including managing mental health battles.

Realising she needed to address her mental health before she could successfully study, she made the decision to enrol by distance learning with Open Polytechnic when she felt her life had more stability.

Since completing her studies, Amie has found a role supporting others’ mental health, “I now use my learning and experience to work as an advocate, using my online platform to have discussions surrounding mental health, disability and identity while encouraging positivity and strength within people,” Amie said.

Bachelor of Business (Accounting) graduate and Lower Hutt-local, Rose Gatu was the ākonga  speaker at the Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington ceremony.

Of Tokelauan and Samoan descent, Rose was born in New Zealand after her parents emigrated in search of a better life and greater opportunities.

“My parents raised my five brothers and I to believe that education was the key to endless opportunities and so I've always lived on that basis,” Rose said.

Entering the workforce after secondary school, Rose spent time working in a factory.

But having her own children was a turning point for Rose as she remembered how important education was to her own parents.

“I knew I wanted the same for my children as my parents wanted for us,” Rose said.

Rose started studying with a bridging course through distance learning with Open Polytechnic, upon completion she then began her business degree studies.

She is currently working as a finance operations officer with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and has started on the path towards becoming a chartered accountant with Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ).

Bachelor of Applied Management graduate Nicholas Baird, from Temuka, was the ākonga  speaker at the Ōtautahi Christchurch ceremony.

His learning journey was motivated by his daughter, Aurora, and wanting to get a qualification which would enable him to provide for her, while working family-friendly hours.

“I was working in transport at the time, which operates 24/7, so involved some long hours and shift work, which didn’t offer the best work-life balance,” Nicholas said.

“Aurora was my motivation, the reason I chose to walk away from my career and commit to full-time study, and the ongoing motivation I needed to succeed.”

Of his full-time distance learning journey Nicholas said, “It is a journey that requires the right motivation, one everyone finds in different places, but as long as it is there, we are all capable of pushing ourselves beyond what we thought capable.”

Nicholas has now been working three months for Thompson Construction and Engineering, thanks to the wide knowledge he gained during his studies at Open Polytechnic.

His new job has also enabled him to be able to pick up Aurora after school.

Executive Director Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga Alan Cadwallader congratulated this year’s graduates for their commitment to completing their studies, while often juggling work and family commitments.

“I know that throughout your individual learning journeys, each graduate here has given it their all, as do our Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga kaimahi (staff) who are proud to celebrate your success with you,” Alan said.

“I thank them for creating a motivating learning experience with you, where you have continued to thrive.  I know our kaimahi have enjoyed interacting with you and have appreciated the unique perspectives, questions, and insights you have shared with them throughout the duration of your studies.”

“This speaks to the power of Ako, the reciprocal relationship created between ākonga and kaiako (teacher) – and how we can all learn from each other.”

Ākonga graduated with a variety of diplomas and degrees, including early childhood education, business, applied management, legal executive studies, library and information studies, human resources, psychology, applied science, social health and wellbeing, information technology, construction, architectural technology, engineering technology, social work and the arts.