Q + A series: Celebrating 35 years of NZTC

Q + A series: Celebrating 35 years of NZTC

Claire McLachlan with Selena Fox

As New Zealand Tertiary College (NZTC) celebrates 35 years, we talk to some of the influential people who have contributed to the college’s success.

We spoke with Professor Claire McLachlan, who has been involved with NZTC for more than 15 years as a member of the college’s Advisory Committee. Claire was awarded with the prestigious NZTC Fellowship of Honour at this year’s NZTC graduation ceremonies.

When did your relationship with NZTC begin?
It goes back quite a long way. It was around 2001, when I was the program leader for early childhood at Auckland University of Technology. I was working with Colin Gibbs [NZTC Advisory Committee Chairman], who was the monitor for NZTC at the time, and he recommended that the college strengthen their Advisory Committee. In those days there weren’t many people with a PhD in early childhood, and I had been involved in teaching education at the university for a long time, so I got invited to join the committee.

How has your relationship with the college evolved over the years?
It went from going to Advisory Committee meetings three times a year, to doing a range of different things, like review programs for the college when they’ve wanted feedback before it’s gone out to the review panel, New Zealand Qualifications Authority reports, and workshops for staff on postgraduate teaching and supervision. It’s evolved from a typical Advisory Committee role to one where I feel like I’ve been involved in quite a lot of the changes in the college over the years. I know the journey they’ve gone through, which is why I am still happy to be a part of it.

What involvement do you have with the college today?
It’s multi-layered now. I still give my two cents’ worth at Advisory Committee meetings, but I also have a national role in early childhood, so I’m able to share knowledge and give input about topics such as national trends and shifts in policy within the education sector with the college.

Tell us about your experience with the college.
I’ve always had positive experiences with NZTC. I really care about what happens to children in this country, and NZTC shares this passion and commitment to early childhood education with me. My experience with the college has made me feel that I am actually listened to, and I know that some of the changes in the college’s programs have happened because I’ve asked, ‘Why are you doing that?’

How do you juggle your many commitments?
Sometimes it’s not very easy. When I begin to feel stressed, I write lists in my diary and attempt to cross each item off. I am also good at time management and manage my diary very well. My children tell me that I have good focus, that I’m good at tuning out stuff and have the ability to switch from task to task. I don’t waste time worrying about whether I can do something or not – I just do it. 

What do you most enjoy about your affiliation with NZTC?
The people who are involved with the college. I enjoy working with the other members of the Advisory Committee, because we’ve known each other a long time. Selena is a superb leader, and Glennie Oborn [Managing Director of Kindercare Learning Centres] is a wonderful person with excellent values. The combination of these two at the top infiltrates through the rest of the college. That’s why I enjoy interacting with the rest of the NZTC team, too. I also like that the college has a strong focus on early childhood education and a very clear mission – I like the clarity and purpose with NZTC.

Do you like eating chocolate fish a) not very often, b) sometimes or c) all the time?
I like chocolate fish, it’s such an important part of the identity and culture at NZTC, but I don’t eat them very often as I don’t really have a sweet tooth. Throughout the years I have received some beautiful chocolate fish gifts from the college. Some of my favourites are a very large beach towel with a chocolate fish on it, as well as a rimu trivet that currently has pride of place in my new kitchen.