Wild­base work

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - MIRI SCHROETER

Con­struc­tion of a world-class wildlife cen­tre at Palmer­ston North’s Victoria Es­planade has of­fi­cially be­gun.

Busi­ness own­ers, politi­cians and dig­ni­taries gath­ered near the park’s duck pond on Fri­day to wit­ness a sod-turn­ing cer­e­mony mark­ing the sym­bolic open­ing of work on the Cen­tral En­ergy Trust Wild­base Re­cov­ery fa­cil­ity.

The cen­tre, which will be New Zealand’s only na­tive wildlife re­cov­ery fa­cil­ity, will in­clude aviaries, an education cen­tre and a phys­io­ther­apy ward.

It will be con­structed by Kynoch Con­struc­tion, which was awarded the ten­der for the $5.6-mil­lion pro­ject.

The cen­tre is ex­pected to be com­pleted by early 2018.

At the cer­e­mony, it was an­nounced that the Cen­tral En­ergy Trust would grant an ad­di­tional $250,000 for the on­go­ing main­te­nance of the fa­cil­ity.

Trust chair­man Rod Tit­combe said the con­tri­bu­tion of $25,000 an­nu­ally for the next 10 years would help keep the cen­tre up and run­ning.

The trust in­vested more than $2m in the cen­tre be­cause it would sig­nif­i­cantly ben­e­fit Palmer­ston North both eco­nom­i­cally and ed­u­ca­tion­ally, Tit­combe said.

Palmer­ston North mayor Grant Smith said the cen­tre would be the ’’jewel in the crown’’ of the Es­planade, which al­ready of­fered great fa­cil­i­ties.

With­out the trust ‘‘step­ping up to the mark’’ with fund­ing, the pro­ject could have taken an­other 18 months to com­plete, Smith said.

Wild­base su­per­vi­sor and wildlife tech­ni­cian Pauline Ni­j­man said the cen­tre would help to ed­u­cate peo­ple about how to look after New Zealand’s wildlife.

Al­low­ing the public to learn about in­di­vid­ual birds when they vis­ited would add an emo­tive el­e­ment to the ex­pe­ri­ence, she said. ‘‘You’ll see it in front of your eyes and it touches your emo­tions.’’

Hughes Join­ery owner Cliff Hughes said he de­cided to con­trib­ute about $35,000 to­wards the cen­tre as it would have a great im­pact on the com­mu­nity.

The cen­tre would ed­u­cate chil­dren and give peo­ple an­other af­ford­able place to visit in the city, he said.

Hughes said he liked that peo­ple would be able to in­ter­act with ve­teri­nar­i­ans and an­i­mals in a cen­tral lo­ca­tion.

PHOTO: DAVID UNWIN/FAIR­FAX NZ

Mayor Grant Smith, right, with Manu Kawana, left, from Ran­gi­tane, at Wild­base’s site.

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