Limerick helps New Zealand college


A New Zealand university which will provide opportunities for a Maori tribe is being developed in a venture involving the University of Limerick (UL). Also involved are Wellington's Victoria University and the Lake Taupo Development Trust.

A preliminary agreement to develop the Lake Taupo University College in New Zealand along the lines of UL, with strong links with industry, has been signed and the first enrolment is expected in 2002.

The Lake Taupo Development Trust is an economic development partnership be tween the Taupo District Council and Ngati Tuwhare toa, a Maori tribe. A deed of trust has been signed by the Mayor of Taupo, Ms Joan Williamson, and Ngati Tuwhar etoa paramount chief, Mr Tumu Te Heuheu.

A technology park, the Southern Cross e-Park, will also be developed as part of the regional development venture, modelled on Limerick's National Technological Park alongside the university.

The proposed Lake Taupo University College will be built at a cost of about 30 million New Zealand dollars. Funds will be raised through corporate sponsorship and from the government.

The dean of commerce at Victoria University, Mr Neil Quigley, said the agreement would promote educational opportunities and UL would be involved in course development.

The president of UL, Dr Roger Downer, said the connection with Taupo had developed when a businessman from that region spent time in Shannon in the late 1970s. "He really liked what he saw in Limerick and saw how the university had such a key role in economic development in the region," he said.

A steering committee was set up at the university last year. A group travelled to the area and concluded the model could be developed very easily.

Dr Downer said the university had no financial involvement, and was just lending its expertise. It was not interested in setting up satellite campuses. "We wanted to do it in a very sensitive way, to ensure that the university in New Zealand and the education ministry were on side. Although it is nice to think we could set up satellite campuses around the world, I think it would take too much energy," he said.

He added, however, that the venture would give valuable exposure to UL and provide interactive opportunities for technology companies. "It could be a stepping stone for Asia for some companies."