Ara Institute of Canterbury’s new Chief Executive Tony Gray was officially welcomed to the institute yesterday (4 September) with a whakatau (ceremony) attended by hundreds of staff.
He replaces Kay Giles, who retired on 30 June after seven years in the role.
Staff from Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT), where Tony served as CE for last 11 years, travelled to Christchurch to personally pass him to his new employer in a moving ceremony in the Wharenui at Ara complete with a haka.
Tony and his family cross from the Nelson party to join the Ara staff group at the whakatau to welcome him as the new CE of Ara.
Tony thanked his colleagues from NMIT for their messages of support and his new colleagues for their warm welcome. It was a pleasure and privilege to take up the role, he said. “I think Ara is a great institution and I’m excited about the opportunities ahead as Ara develops further as a regional polytechnic and with significant provision that also has a national importance.
“There is exponential change happening in learning and teaching, as well as in the world of work in general, and Ara needs to continue to be at the centre of that change and development, not only for the Canterbury region but for New Zealand.”
There were challenges around responding to industry and to learners in constantly changing environments, he said. “We need to be flexible and responsive; we need to ensure that we are acting on sound information and using that information to meet learner and industry needs.
“Industry and businesses want us to be involved with them in assisting to upskill their workforce -now and in the future that won’t always involve qualifications, but will increasingly involve bite-sized chunks of learning that make the difference to businesses and their productivity as quickly as possible. Ara needs to ensure that we have programmes that are relevant and easily accessed by learners with maximum benefit and that supports learners who have time and financial constraints of family and/or a job.”
“Ara has a role to play not only regionally but as a national provider, and I’d like to see more and more learners coming to Ara from across New Zealand,” he said.
Having successfully steered NMIT through 11 years of successful operation, Tony is moving from an 8000 student-organisation with 500 staff and four campuses, to an institute with some 16,000 students and 800 staff, spread over five campuses through Canterbury.
Tony leaves NMIT in excellent health. The institute was recently awarded a category 1 rating in the External Evaluation Review by the NZQA, which Tony said at the time was a testament to all the colleagues at NMIT "who’ve worked so hard to make NMIT a first-rate tertiary institute”.
Tony began his career as an animal husbandry and science lecturer at Sparsholt College, Hampshire, in 1983, working his way through various roles to be Director of Student Services before moving on to Brooksby College, Leicestershire as Vice Principal in 1994. He then served as Principal and Chief Executive at Brooksby Melton College before making the move to NZ for Orion Hotel Schools Group Pacific International Hotel Management School in 2003 and joining NMIT in 2006.
Along with a Bachelor and Graduate Diploma qualification in education, he is a Fellow of The New Zealand Institute of Management (FNZIM), a graduate of the Institute of Directors (IoD) Professional Directors’ Programme and a Chartered Biologist, amongst other achievements.
He is also a keen sportsman and former regional representative and national trials level rugby player. He has relocated to Christchurch with his family, wife Miriam and blended family of five with two girls and three boys, Alice, Amber, Toby, Tony and Luke.