Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate says the city can “take a bow” at today’s announcement to headquarter the country’s biggest training institution here.
The Government has confirmed the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) – the merger of 16 polytechnics plus the country’s training organisations – will be based in Hamilton.
Southgate said the Council and its partners had turned themselves inside out to put Hamilton ahead of at least five other centres also pitching their case. She acknowledged the role of the city’s bid partners, particularly Waikato-Tainui, Te Waka and the Waikato Chamber of Commerce. She also paid tribute to Council staff who had done much of the heavy lifting to showcase all the city and wider region had to offer.
“It was a huge amount of work but we had rock-solid support from different sectors and political parties as well as from the wider education and training sector. Nobody wanted this more than our city. The Government has made the right decision today, both for Hamilton, the wider region and for New Zealand.”
The decision was an endorsement of Hamilton’s education sector strength and highlighted the city’s strategic importance to New Zealand, Southgate said. She also noted Hamilton has had the fast growing tech sector in New Zealand for the past two years. In a post-Covid-19 environment, her Council was looking for transformational solutions to deliver the very best for Hamilton. This was one such opportunity and it was now up to the city to leverage it.
“The fact that strategic decisions around skills and technology on behalf of New Zealand will be made right here in our city, that’s important. That’s a strong signal we have the support, people and industry in place locally to help NZIST deliver on its purpose to upskill and train our workforce. As we work to rebuild our economy, those decisions will be critical for the national economy,” she said.
“There are still details to be worked through of course. We understand NZIST will want a central city location and of course that’s what Council wants as well because we want to support our CBD now more than ever.”
Southgate noted the city has benefited from a number of recent Wellington-led decisions. In December plans were announced to fund a new Alcohol and Drug Treatment Court in Hamilton. In late February, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) would also be based in the city.
“Those investment and location decisions are not made lightly. I know the due diligence involved and the effort needed to get them across the line. It shows a real confidence in our city which is well-placed.”
NZIST chair Murray Strong said Hamilton clearly demonstrated it understood the Government’s vision for tertiary education.
“They also demonstrated their strong relationships between local government, iwi and central government and a commitment to learners. The strength of Maaori business networks was evident as was their commitment to equity for Maaori and underserved learners. Their proposal included a warm and sincere welcome and offer of partnership from the Kīngitanga and Waikato- Tainui,” Mr Strong said.
“Hamilton is also highly accessible with six NZIST subsidiaries in the vicinity. It has a wide reach to learners and businesses and reflects the diversity of the New Zealand economy.”