• Wyatt Creech

The Government has agreed to a large new capital investment in Manawatu Polytechnic. A total of $22.1 million will be invested to purchase and develop a new single-site integrated campus in central Palmerston North, Minister of Education Wyatt Creech announced today.

"This is a major advancement to tertiary education in Palmerston North" said the Minister.

At present Manawatu Polytechnic is spread over four separate sites in Palmerston North, one of which is shared with the new Massey University College of Education, and another where buildings are deemed an earthquake risk.

Mr Creech said that with 44.6% growth in equivalent full-time places (EFTS) since 1991, Manawatu Polytechnic is one of the fastest-growing in New Zealand.

"Through new courses, degree programmes and focused marketing, Manawatu Polytech has had almost double the growth of most others of its size over the past five years, and looks set to continue to grow. This move will bring all departments together on one campus and give the Polytechnic the space it needs to provide the vocational training and education essential to the community it serves. The Mayor and community of Palmerston North strongly support the central city campus idea. This new initiative addresses the accommodation problems of both the Polytech and the University."

Mr Creech said that the new central city `green field' campus would be established in two phases, with the first completed in 1997/98. An initial purchase of one property has already been made. The second phase is expected to be completed by 2000, when the Polytechnic will have vacated four present sites.

At a series of meetings initiated by the Minister of Education earlier this year, Manawatu Polytechnic, Massey University and Palmerston North College of Education discussed future growth and accommodation needs of the three institutions. It was agreed that the proposed move from the Hokowhitu site by the Polytech would benefit all three. The College of Education formally merged with Massey University in June this year.

"With this decision by the Government to invest, the Manawatu will be well set up for a future as a total tertiary education centre which can also attract students from outside the area" said Mr Creech.

It is expected that Massey University will purchase the Polytechnic's occupancy rights to their shared Hokowhitu site, after the exit of the Polytechnic. Remaining sites would eventually be disposed of by the Crown.