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Biggest Ara Open Day confirmed

01 July, 2024

Event continues growth trend for engagement team


With standing room only at presentations, a packed expo hall, busy tours and extra shuttles scheduled – all indications pointed to a busy Open Day at Ara. 

Crunching the numbers has confirmed there was unprecedented levels of interest. 

Ara Manager of Youth and Community Development Mark Simons said his team knew they had record pre-registrations going into the event, but by the end of the day they’d handled well over a thousand individual enquiries. 

The number captures the interest at the June 13 open days held simultaneously at Ara’s City, Woolston, Manawa and Timaru campuses. 

“When you think most of our prospective students had whānau or support people with them, it’s no wonder the lectures, tours and shuttles between campuses were very full.” 

“We’re debriefing to ensure this key event on our calendar continues to run smoothly and cater for all those wanting to get behind the scenes at Ara to plan their study,” he said. “We’re now in the follow-up phase with those who expressed interest in our 150-plus study options to ensure they have what they need to enrol with us.”  

Simons said the heightened interest in vocational education at Ara was not limited to Open Day. 

“My team have handled hundreds more enquiries than previously for this time of year. Our Experience Ara tasters held by our departments throughout the year are heavily subscribed and the expos and roadshows we engage with have been busier than usual,” he said. 

Attendees buzzing 


New Zealand Broadcasting school applicant, Emerson Diprose who travelled from outside Hamilton for the event was keen to experience the Ara campus and meet tutors first hand. “I’m from a small town so it’s quite a big step but I’m excited for it,” she said. Dad Glen said with journalism in his daughter’s sights it “seemed logical to explore and see what it was all about to find the best fit”.


James Essenberg was ready to sign up for Mechanical Engineering on the day, supported by his dad Andy who studied at Ara (then CPIT) three decades back. Engineering is in my blood, James said. “My whole family are in the engineering trade and I’m keen to study somewhere more hands-on than universityI want to do something rather than just write about it.”


Kaia Ona-King was getting set to start a beauty therapy course next month and wanted to see the lay of the land. “I first came to do hairdressing, but it didn’t work out. My new course starts next month so I wanted to check it all outHer aunty, Awhina King, was positive. This is really well organised. People were here to welcome us and show us what to do. It’s great.


High-schooler Toby McElrea was on the hunt for ideas. “I’m Just trying to open my eyes up to something to do after school or I’ve been looking at dual enrolment so maybe do an introduction to trade while I am still at school.”  Toby’s mum Marie said Open Day was useful to help find some direction“It’s not that he has to know one hundred percent but it’s just to have the opportunity to see things he hasn’t thought about that he might be interested in.


Aditi Khanduri was seeking a career move from working in aged care. I’ve been in Auckland for five years and did a healthcare degree there. I want to do nursing to further myself and, as an international student, Ara is a great option,” she saidI will be able to work here, do my degree and build my way up. I feel it’s a great career opportunity for me.”

Kaimahi busy 

Ara Head of Department for Hospitality and Service Industries and Business, Mandy Gould, and Head of Department for Trades, Peter Sauer, said the Open Day had been the busiest they’d known. 

“We just haven’t stopped talking. It’s been so busy. I’ve been covering hospitality, hairdressing and beauty with the majority of enquiries for full time enrolments,” Gould said. “There’s been strong interest in Trades and Business too,” she added. 

Sauer had a sense that the slowing economy was on the minds of many.  “We’re seeing people who’ve got concerns about declining work opportunities and are viewing vocational education as a good option. People are looking to gain qualifications and skills before taking on the job market,” he said.