On 13 September, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins opened a new multimillion-dollar training centre in Dunedin to develop the next generation of Ōtākou | Otago’s tradespeople and engineers.
He Toki Kai Te Rika translates as ‘a tool for the hand’ and offers an outstanding environment to both work-based and on campus ākonga (learners) at Otago Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga in Forth St.
The complex provides a hub-type location featuring a variety of equipment and shared spaces to enhance the skills and experience of ākonga, allowing for connection with kaiako (lecturers) and industry.
“With $23 billion worth of major infrastructure projects in the pipeline for the region, including the new Dunedin Hospital build; the skills taught at He Toki Kai Te Rika are already in high demand,” says Te Pūkenga Tumuaki | Chief Executive Peter Winder.
“We are delighted to be able to offer those on a pathway into these essential careers an inspiring facility reflecting their importance to the province and Aotearoa New Zealand as a whole,” he says.
The facility will be fully operational for the beginning of Semester 1, 2024; including delivery of degree and certificate programmes in civil, mechanical and electrical engineering; quantity surveying, New Zealand Diploma in Construction; as well as welding night classes and block courses for apprentices.
The building itself showcases future-focused design thinking including Living Building Challenge principles, Laminated Veneer Lumber and Cross Laminated Timber.
While the name enshrines the find of three adze blades and a pounamu chisel at the polytechnic’s Harbour Terrace site when the campus there was developed in the mid-1980s.
“Resilience, resourcefulness and innovation have been part of the region’s DNA since the earliest times,” says Tumu Whenua ā-Rohe 4 | Executive Director, Region 4, Megan Pōtiki (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe Waitaha and Te Ātiawa).
“He Toki Kai Te Rika is the place where we will nurture those who – in carving out their own futures will also carve out the future of Ōtākou | Otago,” she says.
The development was completed with help from a $28 million investment through Government’s Infrastructure Reference Group fund for ‘shovel-ready’ projects in 2020. The project has employed around 200 tradespeople, construction managers and consultants since work began in January 2021.
Teaching at He Toki Kai Te Rika will be introduced in stages from Term 4 onwards to allow for the least amount of disruption to ākonga learning while key equipment is relocated to the new building.
The official opening follows a whakatuwhera to bless the project held last month.