I too acknowledge all the dignitaries who have gathered here today and all the people who have come to see our Town Hall.
Can I also acknowledge everyone who is here that was associated with the then six metropolitan territorial local authorities who collaborated on the building of the Town Hall – Christchurch City Council, Paparua and Heathcote County Councils, Riccarton and Lyttelton Borough Councils, and Waimairi District Council.
When the Christchurch Town Hall was originally opened on 30 Sept 1972, a small booklet was published - it was called A Dream Come True - the Christchurch Town Hall by WJA Brittenden.
It describes the extraordinary partnership between the architects, Miles Warren & Maurice Mahoney. And it details their work from sketches worked on together at Church Bay, through to the over 300 pages of the detailed work that was submitted. No Computer Assisted Design back then.
And it speaks to the incredible attention to detail to get the acoustics right - making adjustments to the plans as they went along - the work of Harold Marshall finding its way into a list of the top ten acoustic venues in the world. I was never confident that we could replicate this in a modern building, and if we could whether we could afford it.
We are so fortunate to have Sir Miles Warren, family members of Maurice Mahoney and Sir Harold Marshall here today.
And I must too acknowledge members of the Hay family - Sir James Hay played an extraordinary role leading the Christchurch Town Hall Promotions Committee for many years. They set fundraising targets that they continued to exceed. His contribution was second to none and it was said the project would never have been achieved without him.
And Sir Hamish Hay who chaired the Council’s Town Hall Committee played an enormously important leadership role as well. His grandson sent me a copy of the programme from the original opening yesterday. I brought it with me so he could feel a part of today as well.
I remember coming to an open day event like today, when we queued and filed through this extraordinary building. I was was just 12 years old. I remember looking at the Pat Hanly mural and thinking it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. It has remained a powerful memory ever since.
The reason that I look back on this day is because the earthquakes have caused us to lose much of our heritage. A few months ago I opened a new building, Turanga, our central city library that is so much more than a library. It speaks to the future. Today we honour the past, with modern technology ensuring that it too will stand the test of time.
On that note can I acknowledge the Hawkins team that has lead the project with more than 70 other companies and a diverse workforce from many countries involved in repairing the extensive damage and restoring the valuable heritage features of our Town Hall.
The last three years has seen significant work both inside and underneath the Town Hall. It has been strengthened to 100 per cent of the New Building Standard. In addition there have been significant improvements, which create a much better layout and flow, much better use of the function rooms that now take full advantage of the outlook across Victoria Square and we are looking forward to the completion of the James Hay Theatre which will have improved acoustics, retractable seats and other features that will enable many more options for use. And lastly we are also looking forward to the completion of what will be a purpose built home for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.
The result is a building that retains all its original character and style, but is stronger and better equipped to again play its role at the heart of our civic and cultural life - citizenship ceremonies, graduations, fundraising balls, conferences and of course concerts.
Today the memories will flood back as you come through the doors to the foyer, enter the magnificent Douglas Lilburn Auditorium, see the Avon, Victoria and Limes Rooms. Gaze at the very 70s Pat Hanly mural and visit the James Hay Theatre, which is not yet completed, but you’ll get a taste of what’s to come.
And you’ll also get to appreciate the acoustics of the auditorium again with a selection of musical acts playing during the open days. Many of the performers are returning to the Auditorium for the first time in eight years.
I thought I would end with a reflection on the decision to restore our Christchurch Town Hall. I found a quote in the booklet I referred to:
“For all our virtues, we citizens of Greater Christchurch have our foibles, not the least noticeable of which is a penchant (those who don’t care for us might even define it as a mania) for arguing the pros and cons of civic developments to a point where progress is slowed or even halted. Examples of projects over which differences of opinion, ranging from polite disagreement to bitter wrangling, have occurred are almost legion. Among them are the siting of roads, railways, tunnels, ports, canals, statues, memorials, sports facilities, an art gallery, a floral clock - and Town Halls. If this is democracy at work, then the magnificent Town Hall which this booklet commemorates is surely the most democratic town hall in the world.”
When the next chapter is written, it will record the history of the decision to restore our Town Hall after the damage wrought by the February 22 earthquake and it will record the events of this re-opening. And those of you who have come today will be part of that history, and new memories will be created.
And I am sure you will agree we made the right decision.
Tena koutou, tena koutou tena ra tatou katoa.
Can I now invite Sir Miles Warren, Maurice Mahoney’s great grandchildren Guss & Conor, and Sir Harold Marshall to join me as we cut the ribbon and open the doors