WEA ‘demise’ not true


By Basil Pritchett
2nd December 2011

Rumours of closure of the Kapiti WEA are not true. However, owing to funding constraints, the Kapiti Coast WEA will be operating a smaller programme at the start of 2012. It still plans to offer some of its most popular programmes, but severe cuts will be necessary. Final decisions are still being made about which courses will be available next year.

President Jill Stansfield says that WEA fills extremely important needs for the Kapiti demographic. Its popularity over 33 years has amply demonstrated the important need it fills for hundreds of particularly retired coasters every year. Initially set up in 1978 by the then Kapiti Librarian, Stephen Murphy, it was designed to meet the needs of older citizens who found it difficult to go to Wellington for the stimulus of tertiary education courses.

In its 2010 annual report, the Kapiti Coast WEA noted that in that year, WEA ran 71 events for 507 learners, totaling 11,310 student hours. 10per cent were in the 50-59 age demographic and 79 per cent over 65 years of age. The President sees this as an accurate reflection of the Kapiti demographic.

Kapiti WEA says that it has always been keen to support itself. In 2010, 47 per cent of its income came from student fees. Just 34 per cent came from Tertiary Education funding . However, Government resources for adult education are now restricted to programmes that are likely to boost work and employment skills rather than meet the educational needs of a more mature population and it is felt that this source of funding will no longer be available to the Kapiti WEA.

Late 18oo`s farm cottage, - formerly used as a school room for local children.- WEA Local History Tour of Emerald Glen

WEA says it has been hit by heavy competition for all forms of funding. One of the consequences of the reduction in funding has been the loss of a very talented administrator to full time employment.

Kapiti WEA is still working through all the changes needed to meet the challenges of tougher economic times. In 2010 volunteers contributed nearly 1000 hours of service to the organisation but this service can be threatened by health and family problems. “We are always keen to hear from new people who have the energy, enthusiasm and the skills to help us, even in quite small ways,” President Jill Stansfield says. “WEA has been built and sustained throughout its history by people with a real passion for education and an understanding of its significance for every age group. The contribution of volunteers at this time is going to be critical for the survival of the Kapiti WEA,” says Jill.

Kapiti Coast Workers’ Educational Association Incorporated is a fully audited incorporated society registered with the Charities Commission. It is keeping its public informed by newsletters and via the internet. More information will continue to be available through WEA’s website, www.kapitiwea.org.nz, by email to office@kapitiwea.org.nz, by post to PO Box 446, Waikanae, or by a direct call to President, Jill, 297 1806.