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Carter Observatory Set For Council Assistance

Carter Observatory set for Council assistance

Wellington City Councillors have agreed to a proposal that the Council provide financial assistance to the Carter Observatory - and that the observatory be taken under the wing of the Council's Museums Trust.

The Council, meeting earlier this week, agreed to provide the $1.4 million needed to complete the new exhibition and visitor attractions.

Cr John Morrison, the Council's Economic Development Portfolio Leader, said the Council agreed unanimously to the assistance package because of the "obvious promise that the Carter Observatory holds as a major visitor attraction in the city".

The proposed assistance is subject to approval by the Observatory Trust - however Cr Morrison anticipated the Trust would be more than happy to grant the approval. It would also require the repeal of the Carter Observatory Act 1938 so that the Crown assets can be transferred to the Observatory Trust and the land to the Council. The repeal of the Act was signalled by the Crown earlier this year and the process is now well advanced and expected in mid-2008
Cr Morrison said the Council's consideration of the assistance to the Observatory Trust was not directly related to the staff redundancies at the observatory this week.

"The staffing issues at the observatory are a matter for the Trust itself. I cannot comment apart to say that I'm aware the redundancies stemmed from the new direction in which the observatory is heading and a need to cut costs."
He said he was aware that there had been some cost increases affecting the redevelopment of the old Observatory building and that the Observatory Trust had found difficulties in securing commercial loans due to the fact its assets were in fact owned by the Crown.

Cr Morrison said the Observatory's transformation "will turn it into a must-see attraction that will enhance the visitor experience in Wellington". He added that the proposal to run the facility as part of the Wellington Museums Trust is also logical given that the Trust also runs the nearby Cable Car Museum. "It'll make a trip up the hill on the Cable Car even more of a memorable attraction."


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