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Minister And Mayors Drive Groundbreaking Moment

MEDIA RELEASE
10 December 2003

Minister and mayors drive groundbreaking moment

The largest Museum redevelopment project in the Southern Hemisphere gets underway next week when the Honourable Judith Tizard, along with the mayors of Auckland, get behind the wheel of a digger in the rear courtyard of Auckland Museum.

They'll be the guests of honour along with representatives from the Museum's family of supporters, at the Museum's "Grand Atrium" groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday 18 December.

The ceremony, which was made possible last week when the Museum's Trust Board officially signed-off the $53.2 million project, marks the commencement of a 9000m2 metre copper and glass infill building which will see the Museum's space increase by a staggering 60 percent.

Facilities will include state of the art visitor amenities, a new education centre, international standard exhibition halls, a theatre, events centre and a 204-car underground car park as well as badly need facilities for the Museum's collections, workshops and other core operations.

Museum director Dr Rodney Wilson said one of the remarkable aspects of the project was that none of the required funding had been sought through ratepayer levies:

"The Trust Board is very aware of the burden upon ratepayers in addressing Auckland's major infrastructural issues. It is central Government, Auckland's charitable entities, and corporate and private benefactors who are making this project possible." Local authorities will however, continue to meet the net operating costs and depreciation of the Museum.

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The Grand Atrium Project is the most significant new development in the 150-year life of the Museum since it moved from Princes Street to the Domain in 1929.

Mayors John Banks, Sir Barry Curtis and Bob Harvey will all be in attendance.

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To attend the groundbreaking ceremony at 2.30pm on Thursday 18 December, call:

Notes for editors:

* The Museum Trust Board is able to commit to the groundbreaking because fundraising has successfully achieved pledges and income of $46.3 million. Further funds remain to be raised during 2004 to allow the Board to commit to the remaining works.

* The first stage of development, scheduled for completion in early 2006, will cost $46.2 million.


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