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Te Puna and Mataaho Launched

Unitec has launched its new state of the art trades training facility, named Mataaho, and student centre, named Te Puna, at its Mt Albert campus. 

The buildings were officially opened by the Hon Paul Goldsmith, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment. 

Unitec is undergoing a major transformation, creating contemporary applied teaching and learning approaches that better prepare students for the future of work, supported by bespoke, modern spaces. Chief Executive Dr Rick Ede said the launch was a huge milestone in that process. 

“These new buildings mark the first major physical step in our transformation, that goes together with the significant investment in development of contemporary blended and experiential learning pathways and building the capabilities of our staff. Te Puna and Mataaho embody Unitec’s vision for a modern campus, tailor-made to support our approach to contemporary applied learning.”

Te Puna will form the centre of student and staff life at Unitec, with 6900m2 floor space dedicated to student services, teaching and study spaces, library facilities, food outlets, and a new student health centre. 

“This is a major achievement and we are hugely grateful for the support of our staff, students, and all those who have helped us to realise our vision,” Dr Ede said. 

Students contributed to the design and delivery of Te Puna with projects worked into the Unitec curriculum 
including furnishings, landscaping, layout and traffic management planning. Dr Ede said engaging students in the development process reflected Unitec’s commitment to work-integrated learning. 

“Our students (and those from one of our partner schools) have created some beautiful spaces in Te Puna. It’s very special to see their work as you walk through the building. It has also allowed students to work on a major construction and design project, to gain that experience and build an impressive portfolio of work while they study.”

At 7000m2 Mataaho is one of New Zealand’s largest open plan trades training facilities. The design reflects a modern worksite with many disciplines in close proximity, giving students exposure to an array of specialties. 

Unitec has invested nearly $8 million to fill Mataaho with a huge range of specialised tools and equipment, complemented by the largest range of virtual reality, augmented reality, and emulation equipment for trades training in the country.

Simulation and emulation tools include: 

  • Virtual Reality job sites – VR headsets transport users to a building site. View the building process step-by-step, zoom in on an area of interest to learn about the techniques and materials, and identify hazards to demonstrate knowledge of health and safety requirements
  • RealWeld - augmented reality training sets which monitor and provide real-time feedback
  • Virtual Weld – VR headsets and simulated welding equipment allows users to hone their skills safely and accurately 
  • Virtual spray painting booth – practice with a range of (virtual) tools and paints 
  • Automotive emulation equipment – work on full vehicle electrical systems without needing to purchase and pull apart an entire vehicle. Modular and customisable to specific vehicle and manufacturer types

Dean of Engineering, Construction and Infrastructure Renee Davies says combining traditional hands-on training with simulation and emulation equipment gives students extra time to practice, allows them to revisit lessons, and to use enhanced visual tools to support learning. 

“This new equipment is a huge boost for student training across many specialties. It will help students gain the experience they need to fully develop their skills. 
“It also allows for very specialised training. For example, we can set up our automotive emulation equipment to match proprietary manufacturer technologies, or to include advanced systems such as hybrid or electric drivetrains.”

As the country’s most advanced trades training centre, Mataaho also brings opportunities for Unitec to collaborate with the wider construction and automotive industries, opening the doors to organisations seeking to train staff on the latest techniques and technologies.  

From opening day Unitec has announced partnerships with Giltrap Volkswagen, Lincoln Electric, Makita, Repco, Pullman Group, Dulux International, and Dayle ITM.

Construction on the new buildings began in January 2016 and completed for Semester 2, 2017. The combined cost of both buildings, including equipment for Mataaho, was $70 million. The buildings are designed for high utilisation over longer opening hours. 

Unitec will fund construction through the sale and development of land within the Mt Albert campus, reducing its footprint from the current 55 hectares to create a more functional spaces with bespoke facilities, surrounded by a vibrant community of residential and commercial spaces. 

Naming Te Puna and Mataaho

Te Puna
Puna means spring, and the new student centre has been designed to celebrate the Wairaka stream and its spring – Te Wai Unuroa o Wairaka (the long drink of Wairaka) – with large windows providing a clear view down to the water from each floor.

The name Te Puna not only acknowledges the spring and the stream running through the campus, but also acts as a metaphor for the purpose of the building. Just as Te Wai Unuroa o Wairaka provided sustenance and healing for Wairaka and her people, the new building will be a source of both physical and mental nourishment for our students.

The new Trades building is named after Mataaho, the deity of volcanoes within the Auckland region. According to the kōrero, feeling cold and alone, Mataaho cried out to the goddess of fire Mahuika who provided him with a sacred flame that formed Te Huinga a Mataaho, Auckland’s volcanic cones. 

‘Mata’ is the face and ‘Aho’ are threads, representing the vocational pathways on offer for the students studying with us.