Official Opening of the Owen G Glenn Building

  • Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Speech notes for address at the Official Opening of the Owen G Glenn Building, University of Auckland Business School

It’s my pleasure this evening to officiate at the formal opening of the Owen G Glenn Building – the new home of the University of Auckland Business School.

This remarkable building has transformed this part of the university precinct – a precinct I know well as one who studied and worked here for fourteen years, and still visits for the occasional lecture and function.

Indeed, I’ve already lectured in the new building and seen a little of the amazing facilities it has.

Today is the culmination of a long project, beginning in the time of Dr John Hood as Vice chancellor.

John made an important contribution to public debate and policy about how to transform the New Zealand economy.

He believed that a world class business school at New Zealand’s largest university could make a major contribution to driving up the value of the economy, by educating the business leaders and entrepreneurs of the future.

His vision for the rebirth of the Business School was put to government in 2001, and was championed by the Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard.

It is now six years to the month since the Cabinet gave its agreement in principle to a $25 million capital contribution to the project.

The Cabinet papers of that time record that government was advised that a world-class business education and research capability at Auckland University would help raise the standard of governance and management in New Zealand’s private sector.

Our advisors saw strengths and benefits in the development through the Business School of stronger links between commerce, engineering, medicine, and science – all areas central to building a knowledge society and economy.

They believed the Business School proposal offered an unparalleled opportunity to make gains in business education and research.

Cabinet first considered the capital contribution for the Business School in the week following my annual Prime Minister’s Statement in February 2002. That Statement launched the government’s strategy for Growth through Innovation – which related well to the vision John Hood had for the Business School at Auckland University.

It’s worth quoting from the original University of Auckland proposal considered by Cabinet in February 2002 :

“The need for a world class business school is driven by profound changes sweeping the world. Like others, the New Zealand economy is being reshaped by the forces of technological innovation and change, advances in knowledge, globalisation, and a quest for economic development through accelerated business creation and growth. Access to a continuous supply of well-educated and highly trained business managers and executives is vital”.

The government agreed with that and agreed to become a funding partner, thus enabling the University to plan and fundraise for this major project.

In government, we then turned attention to how we might support other major university capital initiatives which would break new ground in education and research.

The Partnerships for Excellence Programme was developed, and Auckland’s Business School grant became the first of a series.

Indeed Auckland University continued to benefit from the programme, winning two further grants amounting to $12 million.

$7 million has been earmarked for this University’s Institute of Health Innovation, and $5 million for its Centre for Plastics Innovation and Technology.

Government contributions under the Partnerships for Excellence Programme are premised on matching donor contributions, and Auckland University has been very actively fundraising.

The resulting generosity from many donors has been extraordinary. In particular, there was Owen Glenn’s $7.5 million donation to the project in 2005. It is believed to be the single largest private donation ever made to a New Zealand educational institution, and I acknowledge that huge contribution here today.

Congratulations to all who have had the vision for this project and whose hard work and generosity makes today’s opening possible. The government is proud to be a partner in this Partnership for Excellence.