A widespread campaign to oppose the Government’s proposal to merge New Zealand’s 16 ITPs because of its effects on the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) will be launched in Southland in the coming week.
News of the proposed merger has not been well-received in Southland. From SIT’s own staff and students feeling dismayed, to the public’s outcry on social media, especially on What’s On Invers Facebook page, the proposal to reform the vocational education sector has shocked many.
Gauging how strongly the community felt about SIT being threatened, Market South creative director Carla Forbes is launching the “Stand Up For SIT” campaign.
Posters, advertisements, clothing, banners, billboards, social media and much more will become emblazoned with the “Stand Up For SIT” mantra, Forbes said.
“If I could paint the whole town orange in support of SIT, I would. So, I’m going to try my best to get as close to that as possible.”
With the support of the Market South studio, the team were working hard behind the scenes to bring everything together for all aspects of the campaign, which would be revealed in the coming week.
Forbes had been inundated with support from businesses and community groups from all over Invercargill and Southland, wanting to lend a hand to the cause.
“It’s exciting how many people have mobilised in support of this – so many have donated their time, space and resources to support and advance the campaign that it’s actually overwhelming,” she said.
“I knew a lot of people would be on board with what we’re trying to achieve, but the sheer volume of support and enthusiasm we’re seeing is stunning.”
Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt encouraged everyone to get behind the campaign.
“This is our chance to go in to battle for something we really believe in as a region,” he said.
“SIT is one of our greatest assets and Southland will absolutely suffer under the Government’s proposal.”
“Let’s show Wellington what Southlanders are really made of and put our hardy spirits into this campaign – they won’t be able to block their ears to an entire region that’s shouting out in protest.”
SIT’s position as a significant player in Southland’s economy meant that many were extremely anxious about what any potential changes could do to the region’s prosperity and communities, she said.
“It is so important our voices are heard during this consultation period. I still believe the period is the Government crossing its Ts and dotting its Is, but if this is the only opportunity we have to make some noise then I want to make sure there’s nothing but the sound of Southland’s anguish being heard.”
Over the next week, the campaign’s brand will become evident across Invercargill and afar.
Any show of support, from a car toot to a shop front covered in ‘Stand Up For SIT’ campaign material, would be welcome.
“Heck, even writing ‘Stand Up For SIT’ out of Post-It notes on your office window would be a fantastic show of support,” Forbes said.