Tāmaki Innovation Campus


Dylan Rogers
Senior End User Services Engineer Dylan Rogers

Dylan Rogers, whose retirement plans coincide with the closure of the Tamaki Campus, reflects on a life well lived with the University of Auckland for 40 years.

People often ask me “how long have I been at the University”? “40 years” I reply. This normally results in a look of “are you nuts”, followed by “really?”. Well, yes, really and, yes, most definitely nuts.

The problem has been either I’ve tried to leave and been offered a better job, or the University has tried to get rid of me in one of its many Reviews when another job has come up in another department. I’ve been around a bit as you can probably tell. The University can be a very frustrating and infuriating place to work at times but it never, ever, gets boring.

I joined in February 1979 after an interview with the then Personnel Manager, Miss Betty Port, for a position on the Maintenance Department Help Desk in Wynyard Street. I recall the interview was in an office in the basement of the Registry Building. I was told in no uncertain terms that the job was a junior one and was leading nowhere and there was no prospect of promotion.

Naturally, being fresh off the boat from Mother England (Wales actually), I jumped at the offer as I was still looking for a proper job, anyway.

This was just at the time computers were being introduced into offices and as I had some experience with using them in the UK and being the office junior in Works and Services, at 27 years old, I kind of got stuck with the job of mucking about with the embryonic IT system.

The Computer Centre run by Dr. John White provided the Mainframe computer power. We had terminals and very heavy luggables, you couldn’t call them laptops, with 8” floppy disks which were the norm then. There was no Internet of course but the forerunner, the ARPANET was in its infancy. We even had printers to print out the job slips for the University maintenance staff. To put things in context – Rob Muldoon was Prime Minister and Colin Maiden the VC. Wonderful times. Naturally though, computer things broke and I had to fix them.

Over the next few years I worked in Finance looking after their computers. Then the Registry, as the supervisor of the original desktop support service. This was taken over by Corporate Services and it expanded the role. ITSS was later formed in a re-hash of Corporate Services and I worked for them up until about 2001 when I moved to Psychology and became their IT manager. This section was then merged with other Science IT sections to form Science IT.

I volunteered to be the Team Lead for the Tāmaki Information Technology Science group at this point and moved to Tāmaki. I think that was around 2008. (things sort of get blurry at my age). Later, we were combined with the other Tāmaki IT teams and ITS (they had dropped an S by this stage) became my department again. And here I am. There and back again. A bit of an unexpected journey, really. Naturally though, computer things broke and I had to fix them.

What do I remember most from all these years? The people; the University seems to attract characters. From the likes of Ron Cook from years ago in the Plumbers department, Irene Slater in Accounts payable, Glen Graham, Aaron Stone, Jane Buckman, Peter Dorman, Kit Carson, Aaron Jones to name but a very few. 

Tamaki has been great, with many changes over the 25 years of its existence. Even before 2008 and my permanent posting, I was often on campus looking after various people and making myself busy. The biggest change, other than the sale, was the completion of the Population Health Building in 2004. The arrival of the Med school with it, and let’s not forget, UniServices, instantly complicated the computer infrastructure.

The Tamaki Computer support team, after the IT merger, was the only team in the University to deal with five separate faculties on a daily basis. I learned very quickly that all Faculties do things their own way.

This is a bit less complicated now, after a few departures, so I’m not getting quite so many grey/white hairs. Not being Team Lead has also helped with the angst and I’m taking it easier now.

So, to ask the perennial EVOLVE question after 40 years at the University “Where do I see myself in five years’ time”? I hope to be going down with the ship, and be turning the lights out as I leave at the end of the year when the campus is dissolved and I retire.

While I have the chance - thanks to Mays, Geoff, Sajid, Kevin and especially Bronwyn on my team for putting up with me and all the great staff at Tāmaki with whom it has been a pleasure to work over the last 10 years.

In the meantime, computer things will break and it will be up to me to fix them. Well, some of them anyway, until the end of this year.