The university’s new South Auckland campus, Te Papa Ako o Tai Tonga, has opened its doors to students.
Te Papa Ako o Tai Tonga is the first time the university has had a university-run, dedicated presence in the South Auckland area. It holds a lecture theatre for 170, breakout spaces, a student hub with library access, and support services. The new campus replaces the university’s partnership with the Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT). Under the previous partnership, University of Auckland students living in South Auckland could choose to attend classes at MIT’s Otara campus.
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Pacific) Damon Salesa says the new campus is a visual symbol of the university’s ongoing support for Pacific students. “We know that for people living in the south providing some courses and study spaces that are easily accessible can make the pathway to university easier,” Salesa said, “We believe the best learning experience is focused on our central campus, but with a presence in South Auckland as well, the transport, traffic, and time challenges that our students can grapple with are eased.” He believes having a dedicated presence in South Auckland is an important recognition of the university’s tie to the Pacific community.
Questions abound over whether or not Te Papa Ako o Tai Tonga’s status as a satellite campus might hamper it. The university recently began a consolidation project to close and relocate all its other satellite campuses, which include Tamaki, Epsom, and Grafton, after the university found students weren’t using these satellite campuses enough. However, Rennie Atfield-Douglas, a former student who now works on the Te Papa Ako o Tai Tonga campus, is hopeful that the campus’ close link to train and bus connections will mean the location is more trafficked than the others.
Salesa says he is hopeful for the future. “The University operates a number of initiatives in the South Auckland area, designed to encourage and aid Pacific high school students in the transition through to university,” he said. “We have seen some outstanding results from these programmes and look forward to developing this reach further.”