Years of experience results in degree

Years of experience results in degree

When the Tūhaitara Coastal Park was established in 2010, the trustees knew they would need a general manager with a special skill set.

Steeped in Māori history, the former Kaiapoi Pā site and pounamu trading centre with its sacred waterway needed someone who could put the Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust's plans into action, trustee Alan Jolliffe says.

"Management of this park required a general manager with operational expertise, a depth of knowledge in parks and recreation and heritage management, along with cultural understanding."

That person was CPIT graduate Greg Byrnes. He took on the role at the Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust, a charitable organisation run by the Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu and Waimakariri District Council, in 2010. His previous experience as a regional park planner with Environment Canterbury, along with his 11-year stint as Waimakariri District Council's recreation advisor made him the ideal candidate to manage the 575 hectare park.

Greg Byrnes

CAPTION: Tūhaitara Coastal Park Manager Greg Byrnes was able translate years of experience in park management into a business degree through CPIT's Centre for Assessment of Prior Learning.

After two years in the role, his employers also had enough confidence in his skills to invest in his professional development, to give him the academic management qualifications to carry out the trust's key strategies. This included restoration of the park's historic Tūtaepatu Lagoon, which required him to not only consolidate all his skills and work experience but to upgrade and formalise his management qualifications to back it all up.

With a diploma in management to his name already, and years of workplace experience, Byrnes was able to fast track a business degree at CPIT's Centre for Assessment of Prior Learning (CAPL), which recognises an individual's previous experience and translates this into part or all of a career-enhancing qualification.

CAPL offers certificates, diplomas and degrees in many fields including business, applied science, trades, architectural studies and engineering, hospitality and creative industries.

"I upskilled because the job represented all the learning I've done to date," Byrnes says. "All my previous life experience has got me where I am. However, CAPL
gave all that learning an academic profile and put it in one basket. I found it a good measure of a life-time of learning and work experience, and the study process allowed me to establish
a clear path."

Happily ensconced at the park, Byrnes says he could not have envisaged his current career when he was in his 20s, which proved to him it was never too late to learn.