Otago Polytechnic
Studying at Otago Polytechnic wasn’t just about academic achievement. It’s about learning how to manage myself and what guides me in a positive direction. It’s about life learning

Cruze Kapa - Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata & Ngāpuhi
Bachelor of Design (Fashion)

Cruze Kapa’s fascination with fashion started when he was a boy, watching his Tāua mend clothes.

“That was one of my first moments of fashion – I would watch my grandmother do repairs with a heavy sewing machine on the dining table.”

That eventually led him to study a National Certificate of Fashion Design at Christchurch’s Hagley Community College.

“That programme built me into a confident, passionate and determined fashion designer. I wanted to challenge myself, so my teacher recommended I go to Otago Polytechnic to study a Bachelor of Design in Fashion.”

So, the challenge began. Three years of studying, learning and creating.

“My strength lies in my ability to visualise garments and create them. It was great that there was so much hands-on learning. That was balanced with academic work too, so we could learn the theory behind what we were doing.”

Cruze is profoundly deaf but that’s not a problem for this passionate fashion designer

“I’ve always known that and I’m very happy with my hearing because I don’t have to hear every single time. However, I had wonderful support from my classmates, teachers and Support Services at Otago Polytechnic,” he says.

Cruze’s iwi are Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata & Ngāpuhi and he says Tikanga Māori is a key consideration at Otago Polytechnic.

They’re very respectful of all my cultures – deaf culture, Māori culture and hearing culture!”

Cruze is quick to recommend Otago Polytechnic’s Fashion programme.

“Last year, it was named in ‘Business of Fashion top 50 Fashion Schools’ in the world! There are so many opportunities for students … I went to Shanghai to present my fashion show, that’s the highlight of my life so far!” he says.

Cruze is now working in retail and developing his own fashion label, ‘Cruze’.

“Studying at Otago Polytechnic wasn’t just about academic achievement. It’s about learning how to manage myself and what guides me in a positive direction. It’s about life learning.”

See the Cruze fashion label on Facebook.

Read more about the Bachelor of Design (Fashion).

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Learning how to think critically was one of the most important aspects of the programme. It’s necessary for heading into any sort of start-up business

Regina Speer
Bachelor of Design (Communication)

An Otago Polytechnic Design Communication graduate is going ‘old skool’ with new technology.

Regina Speer has developed a clever option for a smart phone cover that looks like a Nintendo Gameboy of the 1980s. Turn the cover around and it transforms the touch screen to emulate an old fashioned Gameboy device – playing games like Zelda, Pokémon and Super Mario Land.

Regina pitched the idea at a Startup Weekend in Christchurch. That involved talking to people on the street to validate the concept.

“Everyone really like the idea, so we coded an app quickly and by the end of the weekend, we had a working prototype and a product called ‘Swoppy’” she says.

Originally, Regina thought it was just a bit of fun, but it soon became apparent how much people liked it.

“My then business partner, Aydin Arik and I decided to pursue it further. We looked into the legalities and trademarks with Nintendo Gameboys and we 3D printed a prototype. We then employed a prototyping company in Auckland who made us some moulds so we could create several cases.”

The pair have received a ‘Getting Started’ grant from Callaghan Innovation that will help with R&D to take their product to market.

The New Zealand Game Developer Association (NZGDA) recently awarded Regina a scholarship to take Swoppy to the International Game Developer Conference in San Francisco. With 30,000 attendees, there was wall-to-wall access to the latest and greatest in gaming. Armed with her ‘Swoppy dress’ (Regina’s friend, Lilly Mulholland, whipped that up) and Whitakers chocolate bars, Regina showed her concept to as many as she could.

“They were all really keen. I think there’s a real nostalgia around old-school gaming. The simplicity of the games takes people back to their childhood”.

Regina says her study at Otago Polytechnic has set her up for innovation.

“Learning how to think critically was one of the most important aspects of the programme,” she says. “It’s necessary for heading into any sort of start-up business”.

Regina’s working on another app that she started when she was at Otago Polytechnic. ‘MOOJ’ is a music app that will one day play the right music for every moment of your life.

“It uses artificial intelligence … it’s kind of like a soundtrack for your life”.

Read about the Bachelor of Communication (Design)

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This project changed how I thought about design. It was so much more tangible – because I made something that will actually end up being made and used.

Jeremy Metherell
Bachelor of Design (Product)

Jeremy Metherell is going to enjoy a relaxing summer holiday – especially as he’ll be lying in a hammock HE designed … and is now being sold through a NZ outdoor brand!

Jeremy is a Bachelor of Design (Product) graduate.  For his final year, he produced a hammock, and Cactus Outdoor has decided to manufacture it and sell it in their stores.

“This project changed how I thought about design.  It was so much more tangible – because I made something that will actually end up being made and used” he says.

Jeremy started engineering at Canterbury University, but admits “I don’t work well with sitting down and writing numbers”, so he took some time off, and decided Otago Polytechnic would be a better fit.  “It was angled to get your hands dirty in the workshop, that suits me quite well, and the smaller class sizes and one-on-one with the lecturers was really good.”

Jeremy did all his own sewing on the project.  Twelve prototypes later, he’s a lot more confident than when he started.  “We had classes on construction, and making corners and putting in zips, and then pretty much it was just go ahead and do it.” As he points out, practise makes perfect, “After many hours on the sewing machine, most of my seams are straight!”

Jeremy’s now hoping to study for his honours degree, and recommends Otago Polytechnic to anyone with a creative side.  “People who enjoy using their hands and like to do things in 3D.  You can take product design to all disciplines, that’s the best thing about it.”

Read more about the Bachelor of Design (Product).

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At home we don’t know the first names of our teachers, here we don’t know their last names!

Max Wiztrock, Lucas Balcilar, Steven Kulicke and Malwin Schlogel (not pictured)
Bachelor of Design (Product)

For the first time, the Otago Polytechnic product design team welcomed a group of four German students into their fold.

Max Wiztrock, Lucas Balcilar, Steven Kulicke and Malwin Schlogel(not pictured) all study industrial design at the largest public University of Applied Sciences in Berlin and Eastern Germany: Hoschschule fűr Technik und Wirtschaft, Berlin.

The four men wanted to travel and study, so their university recommended Otago Polytechnic.

Max particularly enjoyed the class size, “It’s quite nice to have a class so small, you can ask the teacher anything.  You even have your own desk.  At home our class sizes are much much larger”

Lucas agrees, “At home we don’t know the first names of our teachers, here we don’t know their last names!  It’s more casual here, it’s cool.”  He was particularly impressed that, when he first arrived, his lecturer helped him furnish his house. “He drove us to the second hand shop and everything.  One teacher even leant us her car to go on a road trip!”.

Lucas says he’ll definitely recommend Otago Polytechnic to friends back home.  “The classes are so small you feel more comfortable asking for help.”

All four men took part in the 2016 Debrief exhibition with the rest of their Design colleagues.

Their focus now is on designing the perfect tour through New Zealand and Asia, before returning to Germany to finish their studies.

Andrew Wallace, Design Lecturer, says the four international students offered a cross cultural experience.  “Product design involves working with global teams, so having these four students here really helped all our students with networking for the future.”

Read more about Bachelor of Design (Product).

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When you're riding like a bat out of hell you're bound to break something

Adam Gorrie
Bachelor of Design (Product)

Adam Gorrie is a product designer … he’s also a mountain bike racer … so he figured why not combine the two!

The Bachelor of Product Design graduate spent his final year of study designing a car-mounted bike-rack / maintenance workstand.  His hard work paid off when he gained distinction for his degree, and won Gold in the Designers Institute of New Zealand Best Design Awards.

“Maintaining your bike is a major part of successful racing, and chances are, when you're riding like a bat out of hell, you're bound to break something.  Common solutions to fixing a bike while away racing are to either lie it on its side, turn it upside down, or hang it from a vehicle bike rack. My bike-rack/maintenance stand effectively combines two essential products to mountain bike racing, and allows racers to easily maintain and repair their bikes during a race event."

Adam’s always been into using his hands, so product design was the obvious choice for him at Otago Polytechnic.

“At school, I did hands-on topics like woodwork and art.  Product Design helped to extend that knowledge.  Having access to all the amazing facilities at Otago Polytechnic was a great opportunity to learn more skills.”

Adam’s currently considering taking up job offers, or further pursuing his study.  One thing’s for sure though, he’ll definitely continue with product design.

“I don’t think I could do anything else other than Product Design now. It offers 100% hands-on creative freedom and the opportunity to develop something completely from scratch.  I’m definitely pursuing a career in Product Design!”

Read more about the Bachelor of Design (Product).

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The Master of Design Enterprise taught me how to think like Steve Jobs.

Kuang Ma
Master of Design Enterprise

Chinese-born Kuang Ma describes himself as always being a very ‘hands on’ person. From the age of six he was using a soldering iron to make radios and model aeroplanes. Kuang’s parents wanted him to study IT, but he chose to make his childhood hobby his career and studied Mechatronic Engineering instead.

“Mechatronics was my passion, I just love to have something where you can control the movement rather than just programming a computer.”

Kuang graduated from Singapore with a Diploma in Mechatronics and set up several companies where he worked on developing automation, robotic and drone products.

After deciding he wanted to teach, Kuang started an undergraduate degree in Singapore and completed a Master of Science in Manufacturing System Engineering in Hong Kong before moving back to lecture at the Hubei Three Gorges Polytechnic to be near his sick grandparents. It was the birth of his son that prompted him move to New Zealand.

“I wanted to have a better environment for my son and New Zealand is heaven for kids.”

Kuang was interested in working on the Otago Polytechnic electric vehicle project until he was introduced to the Master of Design Enterprise.

“My companies developed engineering products which had very advanced technology and were very cost effective but the customers often weren’t happy. After I started the Masters programme I knew why, it was because the designs weren’t human-centred.”

Kuang found the programme challenging.

“In the beginning I was really struggling because that way of thinking was totally different for me. I had to transform myself from being an engineer to being a designer and understanding what the user wanted and needed. I had to think like Steve Jobs.”

For his Masters, Kuang designed a universal robot chassis for agriculture.

“I visited farms, interviewed farmers and found out where there was a gap to fit this technology. The Masters programme taught me to think totally differently, I’d recommend it to anyone, especially engineers who want to ‘re-engineer’ themselves into being a designer and making the world different.”

Kuang is now working full-time as Electronics Engineer at Kamahi Electronics in Dunedin.

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Having a bachelor's degree is really appealing to a lot of employers.

Samantha Purser

Growing up in Palmerston North, Sammie’s passion for studying interior design came from reading House and Garden magazines, where she gained inspiration to want to develop a career in designing spaces fit for the user.

“I’ve always been a creative person, I did Art and Design at school and was involved in musical theatre productions. I was drawn to the latest trends, and theories involving materials and colour.” 

Halfway through her final year in high school Sammie decided she wanted to study Interior Design and flew to Dunedin with her Mum to check out the degree programme offered by Otago Polytechnic.

“The Head of Interiors gave me a guided tour and introduced me to some first year students, and afterwards I was so keen to the do programme I wanted to know where to sign.”

Sammie was amazed at how comprehensive the Interior Design degree programme was.

“I didn’t know what to expect at first, I didn’t do graphics at school which meant drawing in 3D took a while to get used too. My peers and teachers were really helpful. At the end of the day they only have your wellbeing and best interests at heart and they pushed me to achieve.”

Sammie now works for a commercial interior design company, designing break out spaces, interactive office layouts, and providing appropriate furniture solutions to suit companies in a functional and modern way.

“The degree was very practical and hands on, looking back on my three years I have not only developed a wide range of skills, I have developed as an individual and come very far since year one.”

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I chose to study Industrial Design at Otago Polytechnic because I wanted to learn practically how to design rather than reading about someone who designed something.

Alex Hodge
Bachelor of Design (Product)

Alex Hodge was going to become an architect but after ‘work experience’ at an architectural firm he found it was the creative process he enjoyed the most and not designing to meet architectural regulations and standards.

“What I’ve always liked doing is designing but I found with architecture it was too restrictive and you can only do one thing and that’s design a building. With industrial design you can design just about anything a person sees or touches, from a pen to a phone or car, and that freedom was a lot more exciting to me.”

Alex studied for a Bachelor of Product Design (Industrial) at Otago Polytechnic between 2004–2006.

“The learning environment was this huge design studio and there was always someone in there designing. As a student you had to be willing to try things, get it wrong, try it again, get some critique from your fellow students and try it once more. That’s a lot of what happened at OP and it was a great way to foster creativity.”

Two weeks before graduating, the CEO and lead engineer of Escea came to see the students’ work and offered Alex an internship. He has been designing state of the art gas fires ever since but has also set up his own design company.

“In my final year at Otago Polytechnic I designed the Hodge Hawk vehicle which appeared on Top Gear, and it generated so much publicity that I was getting emails from around the world offering freelance design work so I started Hodge Limited.”  

In 2013, Alex won a gold NZ best design award for a paintball gun.

“Designing paintball products is about 90 per cent of my freelance work, but it started when I was at Otago Polytechnic. I played a game with some of my fellow students and I thought the paintball gun could be better designed in the way it was used, felt, and looked. I created some designs, put them on my website and two weeks later a company said they wanted to make them straight away. I’ve now got a wall at home covered in paintball guns!”

Read more about the Bachelor of Design (Product)

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I’m looking forward to my future. I might do further study in Product or Interior Design. Eventually I hope to gain a New Zealand work visa and find a job creating packaging for products. That’s my passion.

Agnes Nathania
Bachelor of Design (Communication)

Agnes Nathania is originally from Surabaya, the second-largest city in Indonesia which has a population over 2.9 million people.

She came to New Zealand in January 2013 and studied a Diploma in Graphic Design and Digital Media with a private training institute in Wellington. Once she finished her studies there she was keen to obtain a degree and wanted a change of pace. She chose Dunedin for its student city reputation, and chose Otago Polytechnic because it was the only institute nationwide that she approached that would allow her to cross-credit most of her studies. This has meant that she only has to study here for 18 months to obtain her Bachelor of Design (Communication) degree.

“The study here has made me more professional. It’s really made me improve my time management skills. There’s lots of opportunities to work on industry projects and get taken seriously as a designer. I have just completed my first industry project creating packaging for a range of Botanical Kitchen organic juices.”

Agnes has also managed to progress her English. “There’s a lot of international students in Dunedin. I get to learn about lots of other cultures and attend lots of social gatherings. However I have yet to meet another Indonesian student. This means that I have really had to improve my English to communicate and make friends.”

“Dunedin is an amazing city to be a student in. I really enjoy going to listen to live bands perform, and going on spontaneous adventures like to Cadbury chocolate factory. I have also got to travel to a lot of amazing tourist destinations in South Island such as Queenstown, Wanaka, Catlins and Fiordland.”

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Everything has a life cycle. I believe that if you’re going to use something, you should use all of it.

Fiona Clements, Kai Tahu
Bachelor of Design (Fashion)

A collection born out of frustration with the amount of waste generated by the fashion industry has garnered national recognition for designer, Fiona Clements.

Fiona’s third-year collection Chimerical Conundrums was carefully pieced together using fabric offcuts sourced from the Dunedin clothing stores, Adventure Outfitters and St Clair Design. Colourful knitted hoods with dinosaur patterns on them completed the looks.

“Sorting the pieces of fabric took ages. I lay the shapes on the floor so I could see their curves and how they could fit together. There was a bit of trial and error involved,” she says.

Her sustainable designs have already attracted considerable industry attention. She showed her collection at the 2012 iD Dunedin Fashion Show, after impressing a panel of fashion luminaries such as Margi Robertson and Charmaine Reveley, and was selected as a 2012 finalist in the Miromoda Fashion Design Awards in Wellington.

She hopes the exposure and recognition she is gaining will encourage consumers and designers to think about creating and purchasing sustainably. “It’s not about trying to make people feel bad or guilty, but to think more about the way forward; consuming less for longer.”

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The support networks for Māori students are amazing and I’m thankful that there are Māori staff here who can give me the help that I need.

Takiwai Russell-Camp, Kai Tahu, Kati Mamoe and Waitaha
Certificate in Creative Studies

A love for drawing and creating new things led 17-year old Takiwai Russell-Camp to the Certificate in Creative Studies at Otago Polytechnic. 

Takiwai, who belongs to the Kai Tahu, Kati Mamoe and Waitaha iwi, has just completed the first semester of her year-long qualification and is relishing the chance to try her hand at a variety of creative processes.

“I’d love to eventually do performance art and installation so I thought this programme would be a great way to see what art study path I might want to take next year. It’s a really good art and design bridging option.” 

Keen to learn and explore possibilities for her future, this is actually the second Polytechnic qualification that Takiwai has taken on. She recently graduated with a Certificate in Foundation Studies (Level 3) Akoraka Mahi Tini and says that it was not just the programme content that encouraged her to come back for more.

“The atmosphere at the Polytechnic is fantastic and there’s a great range of programmes. I really like that you can work at your own pace and my lecturers are always really good if I feel like I am getting behind.

“As Māori students, we have our own study and hang out room called Poho. We have lunches in there and lots of mihi whakatau which is cool.”

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In Germany, everyone talks about how open and friendly Kiwis are, and this is what I experienced even with my lecturers.

Philipp Wiebe
Bachelor of Design (Communication)

Growing up in Germany, Philipp enjoyed watching TV, reading comics, drawing and being visually creative. But when Philipp was about to study to become a professional photographer, a Design School lecturer saw his portfolio and recommended he do something broader than photography as he was very good at visual storytelling.

“I studied Communication Design in Munich for three years, and a year before I finished I talked to my lecturers about my future and one suggested I turn my Diploma into a bachelor’s degree. I wanted to go travelling as I hadn’t been outside of Europe, so I applied for a scholarship to Otago Polytechnic and came to Dunedin.”

Philipp found Otago Polytechnic quite different to studying in Germany.

“In Munich the programme was very theory based but here it was much more practical and hands-on, and the feedback from the lecturers was more of a conversation and very friendly.”

For his third year project Philipp toured the South island of New Zealand, photographing landscapes and travellers, interviewing them about their lives and where they saw themselves going next. He published it as an online blog and printed magazine, “Where to…”.  For Philipp, “Where to” is back to Germany to work but perhaps not for long.

“Having had this experience in another country has been invaluable, plus an environment like Otago Polytechnic was amazing. I definitely want to come back to New Zealand, explore the North Island, and publish another online blog.”