UCOL and Whanganui & Partners teamed up to bring two Auckland secondary school students to Whanganui to experience UCOL Open Day and what the region has to offer.
Kaipara College student Aria Perris won a trip for two to Whanganui as part of a competition run by UCOL and Whanganui & Partners at the Auckland Careers Expo earlier this year.
The competition was organised to promote Whanganui as a destination for young Aucklanders looking to pursue tertiary education.
Perris and her friend Rachael Gibbins were flown to Whanganui, shown around UCOL during its Open Day, and given a tour of the city. They visited art galleries, heritage buildings, the New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy, accommodation options, Durie Hill, beaches, and other key sites.
It was fitting for Perris to win the competition as she has always wanted to explore Whanganui's heritage buildings.
"I had always heard that [Whanganui] had the old heritage buildings and is quite arty and pretty, so I thought it would be a cool place because I love photography."
Perris didn't know anything about UCOL until visiting the stall at the careers expo, and was glad to see UCOL offered the kind of subjects she is interested in.
"I was looking at either early childhood or an arty thing and it had both of them. I wanted to go away from home to study but not too far."
While visiting UCOL, Perris enjoyed the relaxed environment and the campus' heritage buildings.
UCOL External Relations Business Lead Katarina Hina approached Whanganui & Partners to team up and promote the region as a whole at the Auckland Careers Expo, and offer young Aucklanders the chance to experience Whanganui for themselves.
"UCOL going into the expo with Whanganui & Partners, with a backdrop of the Whanganui River and Jason Shailer from 100% SWEET selling a region was powerful," says Hina.
"We were on point, and the expo organisers were surprised with our forward thinking to sell the region. Any opportunity to collaborate to sell the full package is worth doing, and we are in discussions for future projects."
Jonathan Sykes, Whanganui & Partners Strategic Lead – Brand and Events, says Whanganui has plenty to offer young people looking to move away from a main centre to pursue education.
"Whanganui is a fantastic destination for students looking to start their journey into the creative sector. Our entrepreneurial city is renowned for the arts and is home to hundreds of creative professionals. Its affordability married with unique features like our awa provide an inspiring environment for those studying."
Photo: Kaipara College students Rachael Gibbins and Aria
Perris with UCOL External Relations Business Lead Katarina Hina at UCOL
Whanganui Open Day