Wānanga are teaching and research institutions where learning occurs through a Māori method of teaching. Whare wānanga (houses of learning) were traditionally places of education for people of chiefly status.
The first modern wānanga – Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa in Ōtaki – was founded in 1981, but wānanga could not be formally recognised as tertiary institutions until the Education Amendment Act 1990. Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa (founded in 1984) gained this status in 1993, and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi (founded in 1992) followed in 1997.
In 2000 wānanga enrolments were 4,251. Student numbers grew massively to reach almost 70,000 in the mid-2000s but subsequently dropped, hovering around 42,000 between 2007 and 2010.
What’s in a name?
Under the Education Act 1989 universities must have a number of characteristics, including that the primary focus is on advanced learning leading to the development of intellectual independence, and that teaching is done by people who conduct research. In 2005 Te Wānanga o Aotearoa described itself as the University of New Zealand (a reasonable translation of the Māori name) in domestic and international advertising, but the Department of Education said it should not do this as it did not meet the statutory description of a university, and the translation was dropped. Interestingly, all universities apart from Massey and Auckland University of Technology include ‘wānanga’ in their Māori names.
Private training establishments (PTEs) provide tertiary-level education and vocational training in a diverse range of fields. Students are concentrated at certificate and diploma qualification levels.
PTEs were well-established before 1990, but grew in number in the wake of educational policy developments which culminated in the Education Amendment Act 1990. Under this act PTEs are distinct from universities, polytechnics, specialist colleges and wānanga, and are managed differently.
Few PTEs received government funding until 2000. Since then, they have been funded based on the number of equivalent full-time students enrolled. Enrolments were 54,741 in 2000 and climbed to just over 83,000 in 2006. Enrolments dropped from this point but stabilised to around 75,000 at the end of the decade. In 2011 there were 716 PTEs.
Tertiary sector management
The Tertiary Education Commission (established in 2003) manages government funding for tertiary organisations, provides support for those organisations and policy advice to the government. The Ministry of Education also provides policy advice and carries out research and statistical work. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority oversees non-university tertiary qualifications. Universities New Zealand (previously the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee) approves all New Zealand university course and degree qualifications.
Total tertiary enrolments in the 2000s
Total tertiary enrolments grew from 331,249 students in 2000 to 501,173 in 2005 and dropped to 466,013 in 2010. That year, polytechnics had 40% of all enrolments, universities 38%, PTEs 16% and wānanga 9% (the total is over 100% because some students enrolled in different sub-sectors in the same year).