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MIT and Unitec champion Te Tiriti based co-leadership in tertiary sector

  • Keith Ikin

Two of New Zealand’s largest institutes of technology have set an historical benchmark in the tertiary sector with the appointment of Keith Ikin (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Apakura) as Pou Hautu.

16 February 2022

Ikin will co-lead both institutes alongside Chief Executive Gus Gilmore and brings to the role more than 20 years’ senior leadership experience in Māori advancement coupled with an in-depth knowledge of the vocational and tertiary education sector. 

“I am grateful to the Board and to the Rūnanga and Kaimahi Māori at Unitec and MIT for the opportunity to take this role as Pou Hautu. This is a significant first for vocational education in New Zealand. To work with both organisations at a time of significant change is a great challenge,” says Ikin.

The Pou Hautu position shares responsibility and authority with the Chief Executive. The roles will lead Unitec and MIT in partnership, working alongside the Executive Leadership Team.

Gus Gilmore said he isI looking forward to honouring the organisations’ responsibility to Te Tiriti alongside the new Pou Hautu. 

“I am excited our institutes have been given an opportunity to lead by example and clearly demonstrate the value of establishing a genuine balance of mana in leadership.” says Gilmore.

Ikin participated in a rigorous interview process which included input and participation from Mana Whenua, Māori stakeholders and Unitec’s Māori staff collective Te Rōpū Mataara as well as Māori staff representatives from MIT.

He noted that there is much to be done in a short time.

“I look forward to working with all within Auckland with a commitment to achieving vocational opportunities for our whanau.”

Unitec Pae Ārahi Hare Paniora said, “this journey has strengthened the whanaungatanga (relationships) between MIT and Unitec and honours rangatira before us who dedicated their lives to advancing Māori aspirations in education.”

Unitec/ MIT Board Chair Peter Winder pointed to Mr Ikin’s mana, experience, listening skills and humility - attributes that made him the outstanding candidate that the organisations needed at this time.

“We expect that his recent experience in the Ngāti Maniapoto Treaty settlement will greatly assist in forging deeper and more meaningful relationships between MIT and Unitec and mana whenua of Tāmaki Makaurau,” says Winder.

The Pou Hautu will have a direct reporting line to the Board and provide dedicated attention to driving equitable outcomes for tauira Māori, supporting and strengthening relationships with mana whenua and ensuring the provision of a healthy and safe environment for tauira and kaimahi Māori.

The establishment of this model demonstrates a clear commitment to upholding expectations outlined by the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins in his ‘Letter of Expectations’ to Te Pūkenga in 2019.

The Minister issued clear directives to education sector agencies and Crown entity providers to genuinely partner with Māori across governance, management and operations to give true effect to Te Tiriti and improve outcomes for Māori.

The Pou Hautu and the Chief Executive will guide MIT and Unitec as it prepares to merge into Te Pūkenga this year.

The announcement of the appointment was shared with all staff across MIT and Unitec by the Board Chair on Monday.

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