The Covid-19 pandemic lockdown may have slowed down some of the projects of Te Kupenga – Catholic Leadership Institute in its first year but the organisation is now starting to get into gear.
Te Kupenga chief executive Dr Areti Metuamate told NZ Catholic they are looking for a “proper campus in Auckland” for the Catholic Theological College, the new Catholic tertiary education provider formed from the merging of the Good Shepherd College and The Catholic Institute.
The Provincial Council of the Society of Mary earlier agreed to relinquish ownership and governance of Good Shepherd College to the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.
“[That campus on] Ponsonby Road is half-owned by the Marist priests and half-owned by the bishops. So, ultimately, we’ll have to sell that campus,” he said.
Dr Metuamate said they are looking at two options for a new campus.
One option, he said, is having the campus at Holy Cross Seminary in Ponsonby.
“We are considering doing something in conjunction with the seminary because the seminary is having some major refurbishment,” he said.
Dr Metuamate said a second option is “a building in the city that we are looking at as a possibility”.
“Because the bishops are very committed to having an Auckland campus for Te Kupenga -Catholic Theological College, what we are going to do now is to look at all the things that we need and then start working out what’s viable for us. I will also be talking to staff and students about what they want to see in the new campus going forward.”
Dr Metuamate also revealed that a new website and branding will be revealed next month.
“With our branding, what we want to do is to really show that we are modern, but also show that we stand on a really strong Catholic education tradition. We’ve got new ideas, new people, new ways of doing things,” he said.
Dr Metuamate said the Catholic Theological College, at the moment, has 60 students who do Good Shepherd College courses and 387 in total taking on-line courses.
“We hope to increase that next semester because we’ve been doing some work on getting people to know about our courses,” he said.
Financially, the college was not as affected by the pandemic as the secular universities.
“Because we don’t have a large number of international students, we don’t have the same impact that mainstream universities have [had],” he said. “Of course, we don’t know how much the bishops have been impacted [by the pandemic]. It could be the case that if the bishops are heavily impacted, then that could affect our funding.”
He said some planning has been done around this possibility.
Dr Metuamate said he is proud of how fast the lecturers of the college adapted to the new way of teaching during the lockdown, particularly at levels four and three.
“One of the fun things that happened is that all of lecturers had to work out how to teach online, and actually, I’ve been really pleased with how fast everyone’s been able to do that. Even Sr Elizabeth Snedden taught her Latin class on-line,” he said.
“If there is another lockdown tomorrow, we would be able to teach all of our students online and not have much disruption. That was an impact that we responded well to,” he added.
He said they also gave pastoral support to students who weren’t able to go back to their families during the lockdown.
Graduation, which would have occurred around this time (June), had been postponed, but Dr Metuamate gave an assurance there would be some form of celebration down the line.
He expects that his could happen when the borders between New Zealand and Australia are opened so that people from the Sydney College of Divinity, for which Good Shepherd College taught a Bachelor of Theology degree.