In 1972 the Taranaki Polytechnic was established in New Plymouth, the principal city in the province of Taranaki.
When the Taranaki Polytechnic opened its doors for the first time on February 1, 1972, it became the 13th technical institute in New Zealand. 
The establishment of the Polytechnic heralded a new era in tertiary education in the region and initially provided technical and accounting subjects as well as trade, farming and secretarial training,
During the following years the Polytechnic grew rapidly and developed a distinctive character in response to the demand for expanded training, the development of the region’s major energy projects and the demand for ‘community’ education.
Like other regional technical institutes, its prime function, given by Government was to provide the region’s vocational training needs.    
But unlike other regional institutes which had universities in the same city or close to them, Taranaki Polytechnic was geographically isolated from the mainstream of tertiary education.
As a result it was likely that Taranaki Polytechnic would be the only one of its type in the region in the foreseeable future to be responsible for meeting as many of the post secondary, sub university needs as possible.
In the early years the polytechnic was housed on two sites in the central city. It wasn’t until 1976 that the main campus on Bell Street was officially opened on June 10th by Sir Denis Blundell, Governor-General of New Zealand.
The growing roll meant in 1989 a decision was made to establish an “outpost” building in Stratford and a year later a campus was established in South Taranaki.
Many students in the early years were in full time employment and attended day release classes, block courses or part-time classes.
The renaming of the Institute to The Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki was approved by the Minister of Tertiary Education in September 2001.
Today WITT has around 5000 students studying full-time and part-time and throughout the 40 years, even though the name has changed and staff and students have come and gone, WITT will continue to meet the tertiary education needs of the people of Taranaki, offering a diverse range of programmes by a wide variety of means and will uphold its responsiveness and diversity.