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Art Rip-Off Celebrates Cook's Milestone

Wednesday, June 26 2002

Tourism Minister, Mark Burton, shares cake-cutting duties with hotel entrepreneurs from the 1970s – Peter Meikle, first general manager of the James Cook Hotel – and Sir Roy McKenzie, owner of the hotel for 23 years.

Ripping away the shrouds to reveal the James Cook Hotel’s six specially commissioned artworks and commemorative 30th birthday plaque is Tourism Minister, Mark Burton, assisted by leaders from the hospitality and tourism industry.

Leaders of the tourism and hospitality industry are seen here taking part in an "art rip-off" at the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, Wellington, when the hotel celebrated its 30th birthday with a party on Tuesday June 25.

Six specially commissioned artworks by Hawke's Bay artist, Kate McKenzie, situated in the newly refurbished reception foyer, were officially unveiled in front of 150 invited guests from the hospitality, diplomatic and business communities as well as long-time friends of the hotel.

Royal New Zealand Navy Pipers heralded the unveiling as Peter Lowry, Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast, John Moriarty, Bruce Robertson, the Rt Hon Jenny Shipley and Peter Meikle, the first general manager of the Cook, simultaneously ripped away the brightly-coloured silk shrouds to reveal paintings depicting the Hotel's and Wellington's café and bar culture.

Tourism Minister, Mark Burton, unveiled a plaque commemorating the hotel's anniversary, which will hang alongside the plaque Sir Keith Holyoake unveiled in 1972. He also cut a birthday cake with the two men who built and developed the hotel - the owner for 23 years, Sir Roy McKenzie, and the first general manager, Peter Meikle.

Aside from marking a milestone in the James Cook Hotel's history, the celebrations highlight how far the industry has developed in 30 years. Speaking at the function Sir Roy McKenzie recalled how the then Licensing Control Commission told the developers in 1972 that the hotel would never work because it didn't have a bottle store or public bar!

Over the last 30 years, however, an estimated 2.6 million guests have stayed at the hotel current General Manager, John Primmer said. The hotel has also been an informal hospitality training establishment for thousands of Wellington university students over the years, and is held with fond affection by many Wellingtonians.

Guests at the birthday party were also invited to view the 1972 Retro Room and the newly refurbished 16th Floor conference room.


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