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PM to turn soil at groundbreaking Sanctuary

Prime Minister to turn the soil at groundbreaking Sanctuary

Prime Minister Helen Clark will give her blessing to a new national conservation education and eco-tourism facility on Tuesday, when she takes part in a soil turning ceremony marking the start of work on the long-awaited Visitor & Education Centre at Wellington’s world-renowned Karori Sanctuary.

In June 2007, Ms Clark gave the go ahead for the new world-class Centre when she announced that the project would receive $6.5 million dollars in funding from the Significant Community-Based Projects Fund. She will join outgoing MP for Wellington Central Marian Hobbs, in turning the first soil on the site of the new Centre, which is due to open in late 2009.

The Centre will be a major educational facility and world-class visitor attraction, and a long-awaited addition to New Zealand’s most accessible major conservation project. It will use state-of-the-art technology to showcase New Zealand’s unique natural history from ‘the day before humans arrived’ through to the groundbreaking conservation techniques of today. It is set to be the country’s flagship environmental education and eco-tourism facility, attracting visitors from all over the world.

Positively Wellington Tourism forecasts that over the next 3 years the number of visitors will increase almost three-fold from 70,000 to 198,000. An independent study has indicated the estimated economic benefits to Wellington are 4.3m p.a.

“As the world’s first complete urban ecosystem restoration project, the Sanctuary has put Wellington firmly on the global conservation map” said Mayor Prendergast

“And, of course, the Sanctuary has helped to nurture Wellington’s native bird population. In short, the Sanctuary is an absolute treasure for Wellington. I look forward to the Centre’s completion, when we are able to tell New Zealand’s conservation story through state-of-the-art exhibitions, here in the heart of the creative capital.”

With no major mammalian predators, Karori Sanctuary is a unique safe haven for some of our rarest birds, reptiles and insects. Less than 2km from the Beehive, it is also the most accessible project of its kind in the world and is reckoned to be the most wildlife-diverse square mile of land on mainland New Zealand.

ENDS

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