Taratahi takes over Telford campus

Nathan Guy.
Nathan Guy.
Telford has been handed over to its new operator.

Consents necessary to allow Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre's acquisition of Lincoln University's Telford campus to proceed were given yesterday by Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Associate Minister Louise Upston.

Wairarapa-based Taratahi has been negotiating with Lincoln on the purchase of the Balclutha campus since last year.

The negotiations followed financial issues at Lincoln and the Tertiary Education Commission last year demanding a refund of $1.5million in course fees after discovering the under-delivery of Telford courses by third-party providers, after which Lincoln decided Telford no longer fitted with its operation.

Telford land in Balclutha was subsequently acquired by Taratahi as part of a package of assets to be transferred from Lincoln University for a token payment of $1.

Taratahi chief executive Arthur Graves told Farmers Weekly Telford's sub-degree programmes were better suited to Taratahi, but it would continue to offer Lincoln qualifications until the transition was completed in the coming months.

Lincoln would also offer IT, technical and student administrative support during the transition.

The transfer would make Taratahi a nationwide provider and ensure consistency of agricultural education, Mr Graves told the paper.

''The primary sector sees consistency and sustainability of education as a priority and students will have more options and pathways to choose from under this deal.''

While the commercial decisions regarding the sale were the responsibility of Taratahi and Lincoln, legislation required that ministers' approval be given for the transfer of any associated properties or leases.

Mr Guy said Telford had a long-standing and valued place in primary sector education in the South Island.

''Taratahi's decision to acquire Telford Campus means that the primary sector will retain access to nationwide on-farm training facilities with a focus on a range of practical skills that the primary industries need.''

Ministers noted that the primary industries required an increasing range of skills and capability to support sector growth.

''The performance of the primary sector is critical to the performance of the New Zealand economy, and that depends on having well-qualified, motivated, high-quality workers. Taratahi and Telford will play an important role in meeting that need,'' Ms Upston said.

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