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Big strides being made in reopening EIT | Te Pūkenga Hawke’s Bay Campus after devastating Cyclone Gabrielle

February 19, 2024

One year on after being damaged by Cyclone Gabrielle, the Hawke’s Bay Campus of EIT | Te Pūkenga is about 65 per cent open with about 85% of all learners back on campus.

One year on from when Cyclone Gabrielle ravaged the Hawke’s Bay Campus of EIT | Te Pūkenga, great strides are being to fully reopen the campus.

Normal academic service came to an abrupt halt at the Taradale campus on 14 February 2023 when flood water swept through the buildings. The cyclone caused extensive damage with up to 90 per cent of the ground-floor buildings – more than 500 rooms – being damaged by flood water and contaminated silt. Fortunately neither the EIT | Te Pūkenga Tairāwhiti campus nor the Regional Learning Centres suffered any significant damage and service delivery was able to resume.

EIT | Te Pūkenga management and kaimahi (staff) moved quickly to ensure that programme delivery at the Hawke’s Bay campus got back on track as quickly as possible, first online and then in up to 45 temporary sites across Napier and Hastings. This became known as “the  EIT | Te Pūkenga extended campus”.

EIT | Te Pūkenga Executive Director Partnership and Projects Glen Harkness thanked the community for opening its doors and hearts in the institute’s hour of need.

“We have always been closely connected to our community, but this showed the depth of this bond. Whether it was council buildings or classrooms at local schools, we were made to feel welcome and our students were able to continue their education.”

While programmes were continuing, a big job of repair and rebuilding began on the campus with a dedicated team of kaimahi, volunteers and contractors pitching in.

Mr Harkness says the rebuild became an opportunity to enhance the campus for the future.

“We have been able to assess what our future needs will be and rebuild the campus accordingly.”

A big priority was to get specialist spaces, which accounted for about about 30 per cent of the campus, reopened. They include vet nursing, nursing, viticulture & wine science, some creative disciplines, plumbing, automotive and mechanical engineering. This was achieved in time for the second semester in July last year.

“Fortunately, most of the buildings used for specialist programmes had limited damage and were easier to repair. It was also hard to find specialist facilities to accommodate these programmes in the community, so it was a priority to get them back on campus,” says Mr Harkness.

A significant step was taken last month when three blocks – G, M and A – were blessed at a karakia and have since been reopened.

G block is home to the Hawke’s Bay Trades Academy as well as Hair and Beauty. M Block houses the School of Business, but will be accommodating programmes from across the institution while other buildings are repaired. A Block has departments including  the International Centre, The Education Development Centre that support staff teaching practice, and Te Kura Awarua Rangahau Māori Research Centre. The block will accommodate a range of staff and teaching delivery temporarily.

This development means that about 65 per cent of the campus is now open with about 85% of all learners back on campus.

“The goal is to have all planned works completed by the start on the 2025 academic year. Buildings will continue to reopen during 2024.”

Mr Harkness says the main goal is to provide learners with an opportunity to achieve certificates, diplomas and degrees in their chosen field.

“We are confident that we will be able to continue to provide a learning platform at our new brighter and better campus.”