Affection springs eternal for koi, and Kuring-gai campus

03 March 2015

Affection springs eternal for koi, and Kuring-gai campusAs the doors of UTS’s newest buildings see students streaming into classrooms and lecture theatres at the start of first semester, the end of 2015 will also mark the closing of the UTS Kuring-gai campus.

As UTS consolidates its learning and research activities at its City campus, the closure of its northern Sydney campus brings an opportunity for Kuring-gai staff, students and alumni to celebrate and reflect on their shared experiences and memories, with university plans underway for a farewell event.

The campus has a long educational history, previously being the home of the Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education (KCAE), before the college and buildings became part of UTS in 1988. Since then, the Faculties of Health, Arts and Social Sciences, and, until recently, the UTS Business School have educated thousands of students in the leafy northern suburb of Lindfield.

Vice-Chancellor Attila Brungs has invited UTS Kuring-gai alumni and staff, and alumni of its antecedent institution, KCAE, to share their reminiscences of the campus and their ‘goodbye event’ ideas.

Coinciding with the closure, plans have been made to care for the campus’s much–loved school of koi that have called the atrium pond at Kuring-gai campus home for more than 20 years.

The fish were first introduced in 1990 under the care of Building Services’ Gary Allen and Robert Chatterton. The koi, much like the bush setting and the green carpet, soon grew to become an intrinsic feature of Kuring-gai campus, and with the atrium housing the fish located in a prominent position near the main entrance, the vibrantly hued koi attracted many admirers.

The word ‘koi’ in Japanese simply means carp. The species includes both the dull grey fish as well as the brightly coloured varieties so familiar to all who work and study at Kuring-gai campus. Koi is also a homophone for another Japanese word that means ‘affection’ or ‘love’, and the fish are symbols of love and friendship.

In more recent years, Tony McDermott and Scott Horne from UTS Security cared for and fed the fish daily – even arranging for a nearby school to take the fish when UTS relocates.

“Whenever Scott or I approached the pond they would dash towards us,” recalls McDermott. “I’m sure it was just because they knew it was feeding time but I like to think it was something more than that.”

The koi’s relocation plans recently suffered a setback, after a fault in a filtering system is thought to have caused the death of a number of the much-admired aquatic residents.

Horne says, “They have been part of our day-to-day for so long that their death has left a hole. It’s certainly not the same without them.”

But as the City campus community prepares to welcome current Kuring-gai students and staff in 2016, new beginnings are also stirring in the koi pond where baby fish have recently emerged.

McDermott estimates, “A conservative count of the baby fish would be around 100 – mostly small with a few larger ones amongst them.

“We’re feeding them once every two days, but they mostly eat the weed growing in the pond. They are all showing signs of growing into bright orange koi.”

What are your memories of the Kuring-gai campus? How do you think we should we say goodbye? We’d love to hear your reminiscences and farewell ideas – email your thoughts and ideas to before the end of May.

Story by Jacqui Wise
Photography by Hoc Ngo