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Unitec provides authentic manaakitanga during COVID-19 uncertainty

Staff and students at Unitec have turned COVID-19 challenges into opportunities by collaborating and utilising their unique skills to enhance current and future  learning experiences and provide authentic support to peers.

Former Executive News Producer and News and Current Affairs Journalist Taiha Molyneux (Tūhoe/Ngāti Kahungunu) is just one of the many appreciative recipients of Unitec’s unified approach.Taiha, an alumni of Unitec, obtained her Bachelors’ Degree in International Communications the Institute in 2001 and officially began her new role with Unitec as Communications Manager two days after the Alert Level 4 Lockdown was announced.

“This is the job I’ve dreamed of since graduating and I was concerned I would let people down as physical interaction and being physically present is an integral part of communication and building genuine trust and relationships with people. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to garner the trust needed to do a job like this.”

Despite initial concern, Taiha found the transition exciting and educational as staff and students rallied around her, ensuring her initiation into the Unitec whānau was seamless and meaningful.  

Taiha is in her fourth week with Unitec and during that time has been granted unprecedented access to staff and students’ homes and familiesso they can share some of their amazing stories.

“I’ve met and told the story of a 62-year-old couple mastering new technology while studying towards a qualification in entirely new careers, I’ve talked to lecturers who’ve had sleepless nights re-crafting the delivery of their course work online, and I’ve talked to a 75-year-old graduate who’s secured employment with a Government organisation.”

The dedication and commitment of Unitec staff saw the successful transition to online teaching less than four days after the move to Alert Level 4 was announced. 

Third year students of the Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts (Acting for Screen and Theatre) led by lecturer and famed mask performance artist Pedro Ilgenfritz gave Taiha a personalised performance of mask characters they created from items they could find around their homes while in isolation.  Wool was used to create hair, faces were fashioned from egg cartons and juice bottles.

Taiha says,“It was an amazing experince for me. I had no idea how much meaning was behind the work they did and it was the most entertaining day I’ve had since Level 4 was implemented. I laughed so much my face hurt!”

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