Te Pūkenga staff criticise Christmas restructure

The Otago Polytechnic is to become part of a single crown entity. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Staff are "surprised and confused" Te Pūkenga is forging ahead with another restructure just before Christmas.

The Otago Daily Times has received information which reveals the digital/information technology department of the mega-polytechnic will undergo a restructure proposal over the next month.

It is understood all affected staff will receive information about the proposal on October 25, and the final decisions will be made in December.

About 400 staff across the country are affected by this — all digital/information technology staff.

They have not yet heard what is in scope or out of scope, just that they will all be impacted — either by having their job move to a different section or by having to apply for a new job.

Te Pūkenga staff who provided information on the grounds of anonymity questioned how much time would be provided for engagement and feedback as the total timeframe given for release of proposal to final decision was less than six weeks.

Some felt the decision had already been made and the consultation was "just a window-dressing sham".

Te Pūkenga was created through the merger of the country’s 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs) and since its creation in 2020, it has gone through several restructures.

In the past, National Party tertiary education spokeswoman Penny Simmonds has criticised Te Pūkenga for running large deficits, and has called for devolving some of its functions back to local institutions, or scrapping Te Pūkenga’s model entirely.

Staff correspondence provided to the ODT revealed it "surprised and confused" a number of people that Te Pūkenga would forge ahead with restructuring since it had been clear the next government would unpick Te Pūkenga.

"It really makes you wonder why they are trying to push on so quickly," a staff member said.

Te Pūkenga deputy chief executive Teresa Pollard gave a presentation to 400 staff outlining the process of the changes, but staff said to ODT "given that there was no actual information about the proposal or timeframe details, the staff did not feel it was the start of anything".

Tertiary Education Union organiser Daniel Benson-Guiu said staff had been waiting for the proposal for almost a year, but the details would only become clearer next week.

Ms Pollard confirmed to the ODT it was consulting on the next phase of its digital operating structure.

"This is part of our ongoing programme to ensure Te Pūkenga digital services and technologies provide a nationally consistent, high performance digital experience for ākonga [learners], kaimahi [staff] and partners across the country," Ms Pollard said.

She said the first phase of consultation took place at the start of this year.

"The second phase of consultation starts mid next week and Te Pūkenga expects decisions based on kaimahi feedback will be communicated by year’s end.

"Te Pūkenga continues to operate in line with our legislative mandate. We will respond to any changes in government direction when these are known."