We have continually adapted and grown since
our humble beginnings in 1983
Tony Hall, Co-Founder
The 1970s - high unemployment was on the horizon
In the late 1970s, Tony Hall, Director and co-founder of Community
Colleges New Zealand, was concerned about future unemployment
growth, particularly among school leavers.
Tony met Richard Higham who informed him of an enterprise
trust concept in the north of England where local communities
got together to look at new initiatives to help provide jobs for
people in their region.
The early 1980s - an idea was born
A survey around North Canterbury schools in the early 80s
projected 2228 future graduates at a time when local businesses
showed that just 83 new jobs would be created.
In 1982, a chance meeting between Tony and Alex Murray led to
the creation of The Rangiora Enterprise Trust. The main aim of
the Trust was to attract emerging businesses to North Canterbury
and during this time they became aware of the growing mismatch
between people who wanted jobs and the small number of jobs
available for those with experience.
To help combat the issue the Trust founded The Rangiora
Training Institute in 1983 and the first tutor, Dirk Zant, ran his
horticultural course out of an old bike shed in the grounds of
a former hostel at Rangiora High School in North Canterbury.
Eventually the Institute (later known as The Rangiora Academy)
moved into some of the hostel's dilapidated buildings and expanded
"We ran practical programmes so people could say 'this is
what I did', rather than 'this is what I learned", says Tony.
The mid 1980s and1990s
In the mid 80s the Rangiora Academy took off when the
government appointed it as a pilot to run what would become
the "Access" educational programme. At the time no other
training institute was offering practical, vocational training and
so the network of Colleges grew South Island wide to include
Marlborough, South Canterbury, Dunedin and Southland
in addition to North Canterbury.
Many new programmes were introduced and by the 1990s
formal national qualifications were offered to students under
the NZQA framework.
2000 to the present
In 2002 the organisation became known as Community Colleges
New Zealand and in 2005 it formally adopted a wholly charitable
status. The non-profit status of the organisation provided many
opportunities including the improvement of its governance
structure, the ability to source grants and sponsorship and to
apply surpluses to priority areas. In late 2013, Nelson became
the newest location to be added to the College network.
Thousands of students have now passed through Community
College NZ's six Colleges.