The History of Bay of Plenty Polytechnic

Bay of Plenty Polytechnic - Te Kuratini o Poike - was established in 1982 as a local community college, providing training mainly in trades, horticulture, agriculture and business. We have come a long way since then, with thousands of students taking certificate, diploma and degree programmes in a range of areas every year.

Tangata Whenua History

Within the Tauranga Moana area, there are three main iwi (tribes); Ngai Te Rangi in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, Ngāti Ranginui in the Western Bay of Plenty, and Ngāti Pukenga further west and inland.

The area of land that Bay of Plenty Polytechnic stands on is known as Poike (Windermere). The name Poike is derived from the words Po and ike, meaning to arrive late at night. This was recognition of the significance of this piece of land because it was where the many hapū (sub-tribes) of Ngāti Ranginui would hold their meetings, which took place at night.

There are two Ngāti Ranginui hapū that inhabited the Poike area. Ngāti Ruahine's marae can be found near the eastern banks of the Waimapu River. They have a very close connection to the Ngai Tamarawaho hapū from Huria (Judea). Ngāi Te Ahi were the other hapū in the area and have situated their marae at Hairini, on the cliff above the estuary, and have built a relationship with the Ngāti He people of Maungatapu.

Here are a few milestones from history:

21 September 1982

Bay of Plenty Community College was officially opened at Poike Road, almost nine years after the site was purchased for tertiary teaching. The new college ran secretarial, clerical and office administration courses, apprenticeship courses for carpenters, automotive engineers and electricians, as well as various agriculture and horticulture courses. Initially, more than a third of all student hours were devoted to horticulture training, reflecting the region's needs.

  • 15 staff


The organisation's name was changed to Bay of Plenty Polytechnic in line with the nationwide move to adopt a common term.
The Rex Williams Student Amenities Centre was completed, including a childcare centre and a cafe. The adjacent Atrium was built as part of a major horticultural complex. The Polytechnic developed fashion, textile, hospitality, tourism and television training programmes, the latter fully equipped with studio and editing suites.


Construction of the downtown Bongard Centre - named after the first community college council chairperson Bill Bongard - was completed. It provided a base for business, management, office systems, computing and hairdressing programmes.
During the 1990s, further courses were developed in Māori performing arts, Māori leadership, as well as language and culture classes, acknowledging the importance of the local Māori community.

  • 1,159 EFTS (equivalent full-time students)
  • 219 staff


The horticulture centre at Windermere Campus was transformed into a hospitality studies centre, including the commercial training restaurant the “Atrium Restaurant”. At Bongard Centre, a video-conferencing unit was set up to facilitate distance learning.
The Polytechnic established a school structure with five schools: Business Studies, Education and Social Sciences, Retail and Design, Industrial Trades and Applied Science, and Tutara Wananga.

  • 1,426 EFTS
  • 118 staff


Te Aongahoro, the Student Learning Centre opened its doors, featuring the Library, Education Development Centre, Copy Centre, small café and also some lecture theatres.
Tauranga Moana bestowed Bay of Plenty Polytechnic the designation of Te Kuratini o Poike.
The first full-time evening programmes commenced in business and computing.

  • 1,892 EFTS, 3,947 students
  • 213 staff


Aquatic Centre Te Pare a Ruahine - the Aquatic Centre and the Pacific Coast Applied Research Centre opened at Windermere Campus, and the Pacific Coast Scholarship for local secondary school students was introduced.

A free introductory programme in Te Reo Māori was developed, provided through four ½ hour weekly radio broadcasts on Moana AM over ten weeks.

  • 2,703 EFTS, 17,964 students (reflects increase in part-time programme enrolment)
  • 278 FTE staff


Bay of Plenty Polytechnic celebrated its 25th Jubilee.

  • 3,000 EFTS, 13,707 students
  • 338 FTE staff


Info Centre at Windermere Campus. The Polytechnic established of a formal partnership with the University of Waikato, sharing facilities and expertise to offer pathways, certificates, diplomas and degrees, raising the skill levels in the Bay of Plenty. A close relationship the with University has existed since 1990, when the first University papers were offered at the Polytechnic.

  • 2,952 EFTS, 9,689 students
  • 341 FTE staff


A purpose-built engineering and welding facility was opened, the largest training building of its kind in the country, and Maharaia, the new building manifesting the partnership between Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and the University of Waikato opened its doors, both at Windermere Campus. The existing Automotive facilities were extensively refurbished enhancing student learning and the Ahumoana a Toi Aquaculture Centre was established. Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi joins Bay of Plenty Polytechnic’s tertiary partnership with the University of Waikato.

  • 3,374 EFTS, 9,443 students
  • 375 FTE staff


Bay of Plenty Polytechnic celebrated its 30th anniversary with the "30 Years, 30 Heros" exhibit.


The Bay of Plenty region reached a significant milestone in its tertiary education history on 1 May 2016 when Bay of Plenty Polytechnic merged with Waiariki Institute of Technology (Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic) to become the third largest ITP in New Zealand.

On 7 October 2016 Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic was officially renamed and became Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.

We are Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology!

  • 14,000 students
  • 1,000 staff