Evolution of the University Campuses

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A Legacy of Innovation and Growth

Situated on 65 hectares of sprawling land that was once a research farm known as Ruakura No 5 the design of the University of Waikato campus was first guided by architect John Blake-Kelly.

Opened in 1964, its design and layout followed the Brutalist architecture principles of the era, and though functional, its design lacked cohesion. As the campus has developed over the past 60 years however, a campus master plan is reshaping the University towards a blend of civic, social, cultural, community and academic experiences, breathing life into our mission – Ko Te Tangata, For the People.

Campus Vision for 2037

Our relationships and connection to our community have driven our campus development over the past 60 years and our campus master plan towards 2037 will continue to lead this development to blend civic, social, cultural, community and academic experiences.

Our long-term campus vision is for a living campus that supports a rewarding study and work-life balance and is responsive to a diverse range of student and staff needs, providing staff and students with a greater choice over where, when, and how they learn, research, socialise, play, and work.

A campus that reflects our cultural identity, celebrates, and enhances the natural landscape and exemplifies the University as a centre for excellence in learning, research, and innovation breathing life into the University mission – Ko Te Tangata. For the People, the foundation of our identity.

Halls of Residence

The existence of the University is for our students. Alongside teaching and learning spaces, the University's commitment to student welfare was manifested in the establishment of Halls of Residence. The oldest of five student residences on the University campus is College Hall, originally built for Teachers College students. It was also the first hall to receive a major upgrade in 2012 and 2013, part of a long term, multi-million-dollar plan to modernise all the University’s halls.

Many of the University’s development projects have been supported by generous philanthropic donations, not least of these from the DV Bryant Trust, which has had a long association with the University. The Trust also contributed to the Academy of Performing Arts, The University recreation centre, the Don Llewellyn Sport Pavillion, and other academic initiatives. One of the Trust’s first endeavours was Bryant Hall, opened on 12 March 1971. In 2003, the Trust gifted the residence to the University and established residential scholarships for students in financial need. More than 350 students have been supported with a residential scholarship since it was introduced.

Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts

Opened in 2001 by then Prime Minister Helen Clark, the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts holds a pivotal place in Hamilton’s cultural and performing arts landscape.

Since the University’s inception, developments on the campus were in response not only to delivering superior teaching and learning facilities but to creating community connection. In the 1990s one of the first priorities of the University’s Capital Works Planning Group was the building of a performing arts centre. In 1995 a development manager was appointed to drive the project forward.

Te Manawa: The Heart of Student Life

The metamorphosis of the old University Library into Te Manawa – The Student Centre in 2011 marked a shift in our campus rejuvenation. Its development saw a major addition to the library building which, since the University’s inception, had grown from one small room with workspace in the University’s very first building, A Block, in 1964, to a specifically designed four storey space opened in 1976.

Te Manawa recreated the Library into multifunctional hub. It was symbolic of the University’s vision for future campus developments, including places to meet, cafés, shops, relaxation spaces, and a central point for student services on campus. Te Manawa was awarded 5 stars for sustainability for its use of photovoltaic cells, self-monitoring lighting and energy efficient heating. Its aluminium cladding was designed to resemble a cloak symbolising both mana and protection from the elements.

Tauranga Campus Development

The University has been active in the Bay of Plenty since the 1990s, when we first formed an alliance with Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. Our first cohort of Bay of Plenty students graduated in Tauranga in 2001.

Our aim was always to provide a world-class, university-led campus in Tauranga to fill the missing link in the network of tertiary campuses in the Bay of Plenty. Opened in 2019, the $60 million Tauranga campus houses a multipurpose space that features communal study spaces, a 24-hour computer lab, central atrium (The Hub), science labs, lecture theatre and classrooms. Te Manawaroa, also includes a multipurpose space used for overnight noho stays, and a generous ātea (open courtyard).

The Pā

The opening of The Pā on the University’s Hamilton campus by Kīngi Tūheitia in 2023 represented a major step in the evolution and growth of the University.

The Pā is the largest single capital project in the University’s history and its development reflects our commitment to an integrated and accessible campus that includes social interaction, hospitality, and culture.

At the heart of The Pā, is the University’s new wharenui, Ko Te Tangata, the name carried over from the University’s motto, developed for the University by the late Professor Te Wharehuia Milroy in the 1990s. The motto is now elevated as the name of the new wharenui and revitalised through The Pā’s cultural narrative and artworks that link it to the history and heritage of the site and to the long-standing connections with the Kīngitanga, Waikato-Tainui and iwi communities throughout the University’s extended catchment

A Global University

As the University has evolved, technology has removed geographical boundaries and the University is now a truly global institution. We are connected internationally through numerous research, teaching, and mobility partnerships; we deliver education offshore and we attract top international academic staff as well as international students from more than 80 countries.

The University was the first New Zealand university to receive Chinese Ministry of Education approval to fully deliver degrees in China. The first cohort of students started at the University’s Joint Institute with Hangzhou City University, formally Zhejiang University City College (ZUCC), in late 2017, and enrolments continue to increase across the three Waikato degree programmes being offered. The University also has joint partnership with the National Economics University (NEU) in Hanoi where we deliver undergraduate programmes including our Bachelor of Business with majors in Supply Chain Management and Digital Business.