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Ara celebrates Autumn graduates

12 March, 2024

From certificates to masters, graduates from all walks cross the stage.

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Many are already working - anywhere from construction sites, clinics and hospital wards to the great outdoors.

But on March 8th, close to 1000 ākonga (students) were reunited with classmates, tutors and friends at the emotion-filled Ara Institute of Canterbury Autumn Graduation ceremonies.

From the newly minted young barber who’d travelled from Hokitika with his whānau, to the health promotion student due to fly out to Darwin to work with indigenous communities. The fashion graduate dressing music star Stan Walker in his latest music video, to the just-crowned top beauty therapy apprentices in the country. They all gathered backstage in nervous anticipation.

The event was their chance to stand up in front of friends and whānau to formally receive their qualifications and celebrate their success.

Student speaker, Bachelor of Nursing graduate and last year’s supreme Eke Panuku Pacific award recipient Sioeli Ofa summed up the energy in the arena.

“Throughout our journey here at Ara we have experienced highs, lows, we’ve cried with one another and celebrated together, forging bonds that will last a lifetime. None of us would be here without the support of those around us,” he said.

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Ara Operations Lead and Executive Director for Te Pūkenga Rohe 4 Darren Mitchell said it was an honour to celebrate with the cohort, their whānau, friends and staff.

“I know that many of you have faced adversity during your education. Studying during a pandemic, enduring financial pressures as the cost-of-living increases, holding down jobs, raising families and supporting older loved ones – you have persevered and overcome these challenges,” he said.

He also acknowledged the efforts of Ara colleagues who had “worked tirelessly to continue delivery of quality teaching and learning, and the running of our institution during a time of significant change and disruption”.

“Your adaptability is admirable. Your commitment to your learners is extraordinary. For many of you there have been personal impacts arising from the changes that have been occurring in the vocational education system, but despite this, your dedication to ensuring that our learners received the best possible learning experience has been unwavering. Thank you for your commitment to our goal of “’changing lives through education’,” he said.

Fast Facts:

More than 1750 ākonga were eligible to graduate in the Autumn 2024 cohort.

Close to 1000 crossed the stage in person.

Of those, there were almost 500 Bachelor degrees and 72 post graduate qualifications including five masters.

The biggest cohort was in Health Practice including 123 Bachelor of Nursing graduates, 34 Bachelor of Medical Imaging graduates, 22 Bachelor of Midwifery graduates and nine post graduate nursing qualifications.

153 achieved Level 4 Certificates in Career Preparation – the gateway to further diploma or degree programmes.

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