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Welcome to 2018!

Picture of Matthew Cooke
Welcome to 2018!
by Matthew Cooke - Monday, 26 February 2018, 11:08 AM

Hi everyone and welcome to the new academic year!

You'll notice a few new faces in front of class and around the campuses this year as we move into a new generation of teaching at Animation College / AMES.

First of all, 2017 was a year of change for lecturing staff at the College. Thaw moved on to a new role at Marvel Pictures, Blake left us for a top secret role at Sony Pictures Animation in Vancouver, while Dane and Mike moved on to challenge their industry experience at Mukpuddy. As you know, Jared moved north during Semester 2 to start his own studio. In Rotorua, Akoni decided to focus on the flood of contract work that was coming through. While we were sad to see members of the team move on, to know that they have moved on to such high profile roles is testimony to the passion they have for the industry and the strengths of their own personal skillsets.

So...what does that mean for teaching at Animation College? This process has allowed for us to recruit widely (locally and internationally) and to build a new team that compliments the industry and academic know how of our current team and to bolster that with years of experience in practice and the tertiary sector. So without further ado, I would like to introduce to you all the new teaching teams at Animation College / AMES.



Britta Pollmuller – Head of Department, Animation: Britta will join us from her role at AUT on March 12. She brings a wealth of experience from the Undergraduate and Postgraduate sectors to the position, including successful external collaborations and project incubators.

Hossein Najafi – Senior Lecturer, Animation: Hossein joins us moving across from his previous industry work with Toybox in addition to his near completed PhD studies.

Boaz Ford – Lecturer, Animation: Boaz joins us with enormous experience in the games industry, working with Artrix, GameLoft and Imersia. His skills and knowledge in the rigging/3D sector will be a major benefit to the team.

Rafael de Leon – Lecturer, Animation: Rafael brings 2D expertise to this role having experience across the Animation and Graphics sectors. Rafael taught into our Certificate in Computer Graphics in 2017 at the Manukau campus of Animation College.

Ranju Raveendran – Lecturer, Animation; Ranju has worked with Huhu studios since 2010, developing skill sets in layout, modelling, rigging and graphic design. This, combined with his international experience will bring a great depth of experience to his role.

Dean Stolpmann – Lecturer, Animation: Dean has worked in the Animation Sector at industry and education levels, having worked at Gameloft and Ninja Kiwi as well as teaching Animation at South Seas Film and Television School.


Leighton Browne - Leighton joins Ray at our Manukau campus to assist with the innovative dual teaching model that is rolling out. In the first instance he will teach alongside Ray in the Diploma programmes, but will also provide pastoral support to students in that course. Leighton is an alumnus of Animation College and continues to work on external projects.


Frans Schendelaar has decided to relocate himself and his family to Rotorua to teach into the Diploma in Digital Media and provide academic assistance to students across all levels of the Animation Programmes there. His knowledge and experience of Animation College systems and processes are invaluable and I know that he'll do amazing work at the Rotorua campus.

Karl Springorum - Lecturer, Animation: Karl is joining us this year to take on teaching duties for the Diploma in Animation at Rotorua. Karl has extensive experience in the Animation Sector in South Africa (more specifically in Capetown), and has recently relocated to New Zealand to take on an active role in the industry here.


Alex Ewing - Head of Department ICT: Alex brings a wealth of international teaching, learning and delivery experience to the role and has some exciting ideas for where the Department and the programmes nested within it can grow. The TRoQ process has allowed for a renewal of our L5 and 6 qualifications and I look forward to seeing where Alex will take them.

In order to better support the future development of the Diploma in Cloud Technology, we have appointed Johan Scholtz to the role of Coordinator, Cloud Technology. His extensive experience in the IT tertiary delivery space, as well as his ability to cross multiple skill sets within IT will prove extremely valuable to the role. With a view to re-development of the Cloud programe, this is a timely and necessary role for the College.

Shikha Rangi – Lecturer, ICT: Shikha has worked for Animation College before, at our Rotorua Campus, when we rolled out the A+ programme in 2016. She brings experience in both the IT industry and education sector and will providing support in our C# and Level 4 IT essentials course.

Surbhi Singh - Lecturer, ICT: Surbhi is a recent graduate of the Level 7 Cloud Computing course and holds Masters and Bachelor's qualifications in Information Technology. Surbhi has provided IT support in Masterton for the last 12 months, and recently made the move back to Auckland where she will be teaching into our brand new Level 5 SQL Certificate programme.

With opportunities to move across Departments (in a truly collaborative way), Lianne Booton has moved from Animation to ICT and will be teaching into the BCS, using her external experience as well as skills in game programming and game development to the major programme sequences of the degree.


An integral part of the academic team, the Teaching and Learning Advisor acts as a conduit between staff and students. To that end, Blair Morpeth, has joined us as Teaching and Learning Advisor. Blair has previously worked in the tertiary sector in New Zealand and Indonesia and comes from a background in ESL instruction. His roles have also included teaching and learning support and he brings high levels of motivation and a clear idea of teaching and learning support to the role.

And FINALLY, in addition to all of this, we are rolling out the Bachelor of Animation in Wellington for the first time. Students there will have access to dedicated technology that aligns with that on offer in Auckland, and will be taught by Ava Fairhall, Phil Kurzmann and coordinated and taught through Kieran Smith at the Yoobee Wellington campus. So, welcome to all of the students in Wellington to the Animation College family!

So, I think that's about it! I just wanted to give you all an update on the exciting changes that have been happening at the College recently. Remember, if you ever have any general questions about the College, or the Academic portfolio, feel free to email me at

Have a fantastic year, enjoy your studies, remember your project deadlines (please!) and be nice to each other!

Over and out, Matthew

(Edited by Blair Morpeth - original submission Monday, 26 February 2018, 10:19 AM)