AUT history



Auckland Technical School opens in a former cabinetmaking factory in Rutland Street with 137 students enrolled for night classes in vocational education and the trades.


George George is appointed the school's first Director.


In a triumph for colonial education, the school scores more exam passes than any of the larger technical schools in London. Expansion plans forge ahead with the purchase of land in Wellesley Street East.


A day technical school opens. The institution is renamed Auckland Technical College.


Minister of Education James Allen formally opens Seddon Memorial Technical College.



George Park is appointed Director


Seddon Memorial Technical College is now the largest school in New Zealand, with 4212 pupils, 59 full time staff and 93 part time staff.


Horace Scott is appointed Principal and the college introduces a senior business course.


Science students, under the guidance of Ron Waddell, make a television broadcast from a transmitter, three years before television is available in New Zealand homes.


The college separates into two institutions — a technical high school and a polytechnic division headed by Roderick Keir.The Department of Education heralds the move as a “major turning point in the history of New Zealand’s technical education system”.



The polytechnic division is renamed the Auckland Technical Institute and, under the Education Amendment Act 1963, is officially recognised as offering advanced vocational education.


ATI finally marks its graduation to the tertiary sector with the relocation of the high school to Western Springs and the establishment of two boards of governors. Technical institutes are the fastest growing sector in tertiary education and ATI leads the way by introducing the country’s first full time technicians’ course, the New Zealand Certificate in Engineering.


Cyril Maloy is appointed Principal. K Block opens.


Ivan Moses is appointed Principal, with 800 full time students enrolled.


ATI has nine departments within four newly established schools: engineering, science, arts and commerce. A fifth school — health and biological science — opens three years later.


ATI is recognised as the country’s largest technical institute and, in a privilege rarely granted outside Great Britain, gains the right to run The City and Guilds of London Institute’s most advanced cookery course.


ATI runs its first Maoritanga course, covering oral fluency, values and culture.


Health science courses are transferred to ATI’s new campus at the former North Shore Teachers’ Training College in Northcote.


John Hinchcliff is appointed Principal. Summer school commences.


ATI celebrates its 25th birthday with an open day for the public and attracts extensive news media coverage.



ATI Education Foundation is established and receives a $1.2 million donation from the Auckland Savings Bank Charitable Trust. Five hundred and fifty students apply for 225 places in the full time. National Certificate in Business Studies.


As the Hawke Report sparks heated debate on funding for tertiary education, Auckland University recognises the ATI diploma and advanced diploma in physiotherapy as the equivalent of a Bachelor of Science degree.


The Education Act marks a watershed year for polytechnics: providing long awaited autonomy and the right to confer degrees. To mark the occasion,  ATI becomes Auckland Institute of Technology (Te Whare Takiura o Tamaki Makau Rau — the house of learning of Tamaki, the much desired place).


As bulk funding is introduced, the Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy) is approved and AIT becomes the first polytechnic authorised to award a degree qualification. Former Labour MP Phil Goff (re-elected in 1993) is appointed to the teaching staff of the new Diploma in Communication Studies, and in 1992 is joined by broadcaster Dr Brian Edwards and investigative journalist Pat Booth on the Bachelor of Communication Studies,the diploma’s successor.


A group of nursing students becomes AIT’s first graduates to be awarded a degree — the Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing). The following year, AIT is the first polytechnic in New Zealand to offer the Bachelor of Applied Science degree.



The Maori Exposition in Aotea Square celebrates Maori achievement. Pauline Kingi, a Harvard law graduate, is named the new council chair, becoming the first Maori and the first woman to hold the position since the institute moved into the tertiary sector.


The new Hotel and Restaurant Studies building opens.


AIT introduces honorary masters degrees and the first honoured is Joan Donley for her services to New Zealand midwifery. The AIT marae (Te Purengi)opens and the second Maori Exposition is a spectacular success.


AIT celebrates record student numbers: 26,000 students enrolled, with 57 percent in full time study. The institute announces it will offer the Doctor of Philosophy. To celebrate its first graduation procession, 600 AIT graduates march proudly to Aotea Centre.



AIT makes history as New Zealand’s first polytechnic to become a university, and renames itself AUT. Yachtsman Sir Peter Blake receives AUT’s first Honorary Doctorate.


Dr Debbie Blake is honoured as AUT’s first PhD graduate, and fashion school students debut at New Zealand Fashion Week.


Derek McCormack is appointed Vice-Chancellor.


Academic staff shine on the world stage: Professor Sergei Gulyaev heads up New Zealand's part of the bid to host the worldwide digital radio telescope project, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA); and Associate Professor Welby Ings' short film Boy is shortlisted for the 2006 Academy Awards. The new Business School building opens and receives a number of industry awards for its design. The University’s publishing arm, AUT Media, is launched in a joint venture with Auckland publishing and design company HB Media.


Political economist and former MP Dr Marilyn Waring joins the Institute for Public Policy.


Derek McCormack establishes 60 Vice-Chancellor Doctoral Scholarships, each worth around $90,000. In the latest survey of the PBRF (Performance Based Research Funding), AUT receives the biggest improvement in research quality score of any university, up by 142 percent on 2003.

(PRIMARY SOURCE: Shaw, L.(2002). Learning for Life: The Origins of Auckland University of Technology. Auckland University of Technology.)


AUT installs New Zealand’s first radio telescope, a 12m device near Warkworth, Rodney District.  It is a major step towards New Zealand's participation with Australia in the international, mega-science project, the Square Kilometre Array.




AUT Rookie fashion show moves to St Pauls Church, Symonds Street, Auckland City after five years at New Zealand Fashion week, and becomes an independent event.


Maori Expo moves to a new venue, the Vector Arena.  Over 20,000 people attend, including those involved in, kapa haka, fashion shows, dance performances, exhibitions and concerts.


AUT partners with the Millennium Institute of Sport and Health to open the AUT Millennium campus in Mairangi Bay, North Shore City.. The focus of the facility is high performance athlete development and success. The partnership brings together valuable sports research and training collaborations between AUT and Millennium in areas like biomechanics and human performance. The campus has world-class training facilities, athlete accommodation and sports science laboratories. 


In June 2009 the university opens a lecture theatre complex at the North Shore campus. This new facility has: 300- and 150-seat lecture theatres; an open foyer space for exhibitions and conferences; and a large landscaped courtyard, ideal for gatherings and events. 


AUT opens its South campus, the first university in the city. The 440 founding students study business, health, education and sport and recreation degrees.


AUT University celebrates its 10th birthday.
In its first 10 years as a university, AUT:
  • Graduated 25,000 students from undergraduate and postgraduate degrees
  • Graduated 110 PhDs and other doctorates (the first just 6 years ago)
  • Produced 8,000 refereed journal articles and other peer-reviewed research outputs
  • Received $145 million in research-related income
  • Grew total enrolments to more than 19,000 students (equivalent full-time), with over 80% in undergraduate or postgraduate degrees.
  • Saw annual postgraduate enrolment climb to 2,000 students (equivalent full-time), with 300 PhD students.

Last updated: 22-Jun-2016 2.24pm

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.