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Hawkes Bay Holt Planetarium - Napier - New Zealand
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History

Hawkes Bay Holt Planetarium Trust.

Background Information

In 1961 Napier businessman, Harold Holt (and former pupil of Napier Boys High School) purchased the Planetarium Projector equipment, that was on display at the annual Wellington Winter Show, from the East German optical company, Carl Zeiss.

Because of his interest in the sciences Mr Holt was happy to buy the equipment for the publicís enjoyment and gifted it to the city, when approached by the then Napier Mayor, Sir Peter Tait.

The equipment was first housed in one of the old Henry Williams warehouses in the Vauitier and Raffles Street area and during these initial years the projector was transported to different venues, like the Pandora woolstores where the Hawkes Bay Astronomical Society would put on a show. At the time of purchase, the equipment included a collapsible cloth dome, however, this subsequently perished over the passage of time.

In 1968, after some years in storage, the projector was relocated to a new site in Herschell Street adjacent to the Museum and subsequently alongside the Lilliput Tourist attraction. A new plaster dome and Planetarium viewing room was constructed by the Council and this facility still stands today, but unused.

In itís early days the Planetarium was well patronized but over the years numbers dropped off due to lack of promotion and new programmes being available on a manual machine. The site was becoming outdated as the years rolled on and essential improvements were required to the acoustics, the seating and static displays. In order to keep pace with modern trends, considerable sums needed to be spent but unfortunately that did not occur, and in 1988 the Napier City Council decided to close the Planetarium and mothball the equipment.

The desire to restart the Planetarium came from members of the Hawkes Bay Astronomy Society and the President, Mr Jack Dunlop, in 1991 started negotiations with the Napier City Council. The plan was to relocate the Planetarium alongside one of the Marine Parade tourist attractions and initial discussions centred on the proposed Aquarium redevelopment to make use of their existing resources. However, no progress was made and the proposal was dropped.

In mid 1996 the project was revived once more with staff from the Carter Observatory confirming that the stored projector equipment was in excellent working condition. A working party was formed and following a visit to the Carter Observatory Planetarium in December 1996 plans were formulated to push ahead with modernisation and redevelopment on a site at Napier Boysí High School.

Sir Ian Axford, a world renowned scientist, and also an old boy of Napier Boysí High School was keen to lend his support to the project by being the Settlor of a Charitable Trust.

This trust was established on 16th May 1997.

Fundraising was successful and the Planetarium opened at its current location on 20 November 1998.


Main Entrance
Main Entrance
Lecture Theatre
Lecture Theatre
Displays in Foyer
Displays in Foyer
Planetarium Dome
Planetarium Dome
Front Desk - Come on in!
Front Desk - Come on in!
 
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