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Clark: Opens Westfield Queensgate, SKYCITY Cinema

Address at Opening of Westfield Queensgate Redevelopment and SKYCITY Cinema Complex

Level 1, Queensgate Centre, Waterloo Road Lower Hutt, 7.30 pm

--

Thank you for inviting me to the opening of the new SKYCITY cinema complex and to celebrate the completion of the redevelopment of Westfield Queensgate Mall.

The $150m redevelopment is a huge investment by Westfield in retailing in the Hutt Valley. This is a very big vote of confidence in the local economy.

Westfield's shopping centres are now a familiar sight in New Zealand. In my own electorate, Westfield has made big investments at St Lukes, and a SKYCITY cinema complex has been added there in recent years.

Westfield's malls have become large and diverse retail and entertainment centres. We come to them not only to shop, but to meet friends, see movies, have a meal, buy a coffee, and see exhibitions.

In other words, Westfield has placed itself at the heart of our communities. It has also been generous to many of our community organisations. It has a wide range of sponsorships - with probably the best known being the spectacular annual Westfield Style Pasifika, an annual showcase of Kiwi Pasifika design and creativity.

The new SKYCITY cinema complex here at Westfield Queensgate is the company's first complex in the Wellington region.

Movies have been drawing crowds in New Zealand since the very first showing at the Auckland Opera House in 1896.

There, the audience cheered the series of one minute long shorts, including footage of a moving train, sea-bathers, a merry-go-round, dancing girls, and London streets.

In 1910, New Zealand's first purpose-built picture theatre, the King's Theatre, was opened in Wellington.

By 1917, over 550,000 New Zealanders were going to the movies every week. In 1940, out of a population of 1.5 million, over 31 million movie tickets were sold. That was, the pre-television age.

SKYCITY's Complex epitomises the new face of cinema-going.

Today's film-goers expect cutting-edge sound and screen technology, and we expect to watch films in modern and comfortable venues. Cinemas these days must compete with a wide range of other entertainment, including television, and DVDs and videos shown at home.

Even so, cinema attendances are holding up well, with a 2002 survey by Statistics New Zealand revealing that an estimated 801,000 New Zealanders had been to a film in a four-week period.

This has been helped by the huge improvement in cinema facilities, of the kind we are seeing in this new complex at Westfield Queensgate.

One of the pleasures of going to the movies these days is the number of New Zealand-made films showing on the big screen.

Some are the blockbusters, made by Peter Jackson and Andrew Adamson, with Peter making as much of his movies as he can right here in Wellington. Indeed the New York scenes of King Kong were filmed only a few kilometres away, at Seaview, past Petone.

But as well there are all the Kiwi feature films which have come onto the market - most recently Sione's Wedding, No. 2, River Queen, and The World's Fastest Indian, and before that Whale Rider, Perfect Stranger, and In My Father's Den.

Other new titles are on the way - both local stories and major offshore productions.

The good news for people in the Hutt Valley is that you have a brand new SKYCITY complex, able to show simultaneously a wide range of movies for a range of audiences.

Thank you once again for inviting me to be part of tonight's opening and celebration.

I wish SKYCITY Cinemas and Westfield Queensgate a prosperous future here in Lower Hutt.

I now declare this complex open.


ENDS

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