Catherine Cooney is the Council Chairperson for Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, an amalgamation of two well performing institutions – Bay of Plenty Polytechnic in Tauranga and Waiariki Institute ofTechnology in Rotorua. The institutions merged in 2016 to better meet the education and employment needs of the Bay of Plenty/South Waikato region.
I sat down with Catherine to learn more about the development of Toi Ohomai and how TwentyTwo helped them undertake an asset review and put together a forward-thinking, strategic facility and asset master plan.
“It’s been a unique journey. Taking two legacy institutes, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and Waiariki Institute of Technology and merging them into one – Toi Ohomai . Both of the previous Councils were very strategic in terms of thinking about, could something be done better, is having two separate entities in the same geographic region the best arrangement for the long term? When the decision to merge came into effect on 1 May 2016, it was genuinely a merger of two willing parties.
At the time of the merger there were some campus developments underway that were part of the legacy institutes. Once we formed the new Council we put a hold on all further development until our overarching strategic directions were established. We also recognised that we needed some independent expert advice to assist us with this process.”
The beginning – bigger picture thinking
“Once we established our five big strategic directions (including: partnering with Iwi, industry and community; delivering tertiary education to meet the needs of the region - connecting remote rural learners; and being learner-centred with the aim of raising Maori learner success), we were in a place to move forward.
We had funds ear-marked for asset development and Council agreed that the time was right to begin long term asset planning. We realised we needed to take a big step back and completely rethink, what is and what isn’t working currently, and to ask what assets do we need to help meet our strategic directions.
The next step was to go through a tender process, selecting from those firms identified as part of the All of Government (AoG) contract list of suppliers, with TwentyTwo being the successful company as a result of this procurement process. TwentyTwo, led by Director Duncan Mitchell, has a solid understanding of the Tertiary Sector and Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITP) and are recognized as being excellent at connecting property objectives with an organisation’s high-level strategy/ big picture.
The importance of having a facility and asset master plan that captures the here and now and looks well into the future is critical. We were united as a Council and with our CE, Leon Fourie, that we needed to look 20-30 years out to maximise the benefit of any large-scale capital investment.”
Toi Ohomai and TwentyTwo
“The Toi Ohomai logo has five stars, it’s our constellation and represents our geographic region including the location of the five main campuses. The work done by TwentyTwo really made the importance of our region and it’s make up of industries such as forestry, agriculture, horticulture, manufacturing, logistics, road transport and the Tauranga port - more visible. It helped depict our strategy.
TwentyTwo got our big passion about reaching students in remote rural areas and that’s actually not about campuses at all. It’s about a hub and spoke approach and partnering with Iwi and industries in the remote/spoke places and ensuring we get the right learning model for students in those communities. A mixture of online and face to face. They had some great technology solutions to contribute here too.
The analysis work that was done by TwentyTwo really helped us to think about the assets we have now, what’s good about them and what’s not hitting the mark. This included modeling current facility utilisation. The utilisation rate certainly came as a surprise to Council. There was definitely no hiding from the truth that a number of facilities were under utilised for long periods of time. TwentyTwo turned a whole lot of modelling data into useful information for governance to understand and to use as a basis for decision making.
Another thing that captured our imagination was around creating the lively, central bumping place, the heart of the campus, to enhance the student experience, and the TwentyTwo work highlighted that neither of our large campuses currently had these spaces clearly defined. The potential of creating such spaces, through wise asset planning is exciting.
When presented the report and proposal got unanimous support from Council, it was high-quality work (I love the graphic style of the TwentyTwo report). There was really good partnering done with our management team throughout the process and to complete the report and present it to the Council.
We felt it was great value for money and really own it as our long-term asset strategy. We are progressing the first identified priority areas for action.”
Final words to all Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITP)
"My message is as ITP Councils we must look forward 20-30 years and maximise every capital investment dollar for the best benefit for learner success. We also have a responsibility for maximizing the utilisation and flexible use of facilities which need to be seen as assets for the whole community. At the same time we need to be mindful of opportunities for partnering and of the disruptive impact of changing technology and the influence of this on how tertiary education will be delivered in the future.
It’s a Council responsibility to be doing the longer-term strategy and working with TwentyTwo has been greatly influential in pulling our Toi Ohomai strategic facility and asset master plan together.”