A message from Stephen Town, Chief Executive, New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology: 

Kia ora koutou katoa.

Over the past five months, since April 2020, our newly established Poari Akoranga/Academic Board has been focused on defining how they will operate effectively to support our new NZIST environment. It’s an exciting time.

It is widely acknowledged that Poari Akoranga has a big and challenging job ahead. I think there’s significant confidence that once fully developed, the Board will have a positive impact on learners within NZIST’s network by providing strong and clear academic direction and leadership.

The Board has already met on several occasions and a preliminary Terms of Reference (ToR) have been drafted.

I understand there has been some confusion about the preliminary focus and role of Poari Akoranga. This is understandable, because it’s early days for Poari Akoranga and NZIST, and we are working our way through how the Board will interface with subsidiaries, ITOs and NZQA.  Now is the right time to ask questions, raise issues and work together to find the answers we need. I know you want more clarity, so let’s work together to define just that.

NZIST’s Council has recognised the need to provide some clarity to Poari Akoranga. At the last meeting they decided that the preliminary ToR will be reviewed to ensure they are fit for purpose and are able to support the future-focused approach that NZIST needs.  We need something that helps take us from the ‘now’ and prepare us for the ‘new world’. We don’t need to lock them down immediately if we don’t think we’ve got them right.

The Council also confirmed their expectation of a high trust academic architecture approach. This means for now subsidiaries will continue to manage their own quality across their own provision. The Council has both trust and confidence in current subsidiary academic committees to continue with their good work. 

It is expected that subsidiaries continue to maintain academic quality, manage any programme changes and approvals, and continue to deliver their current mix of provision. In simple terms, subsidiary academic committees will continue to manage the ‘now’.

While work is underway to review the ToR, Poari Akoranga will focus on defining the right academic architectural governance systems and structures that will help get us to and support us in the ‘new world’.

Our ‘new world’ will see learners at the very heart of our academic network. We will ensure seamless integration, synchronisation and consistency applied to all learning and learners (work-based, online and on-campus) at all times.

I have already said that Poari Akoranga has a big job ahead, and it’s a very important job too. I think our stakeholders need more connection with and visibility over the work that’s underway. To help make that happen, I’ve suggested the following:

  • All agendas, Minutes and papers for Poari Akoranga will be made available on the NZIST website
  • A regular panui will be developed and sent to Poari Akoranga’s key stakeholders after each Board meeting. The panui will provide updates, information and further insight into the work undertaken by Poari Akoranga

On Wednesday 12 August, Poari Akoranga will meet face-to-face for the first time in Wellington. They will have their Board meeting and then take part in a half-day workshop. Along with initiating the review of the ToR and developing a workplan, I have suggested they need to spend time considering how they will ensure greater learner and staff participation in their important work. Both can offer significant insight and input and it’s important we capture that at the outset. I’m certain we can enable this to happen quickly, while we work on more formal mechanisms over time.

You will hear more from me on Poari Akoranga as we work together to define what our academic direction will be. My final message is that we don’t have to be in a rush to try and finalise this immediately. I want to see planned and decisive steps. We need to keep our tempo up, and we need to maintain control of our outcomes too.  While the end of 2022 is not too far away, we need to ensure the work we do now sets us up to be successful in the future. Let’s work together, collaborate widely for success and make sure we have learners in the middle of our decision making.

Ngā mihi,



Published on 5 Aug 2020

Orderdate: 5 Aug 2020
Expiry: 16 Sep 2022