• Jim Bolger
Prime Minister


Mayor Les Mills, Sir Hugh Kawharu, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

This is a splendid occasion for Auckland and Aucklanders and a very appropriate precursor to the "Heritage Weekend" you will be enjoying over the next two days.

Thank you for the invitation to take part, I'm pleased I can still put a Prime Ministerial seal of approval on the re-opening of this magnificent building.

The Town Hall has been an Auckland icon as long as any of us can remember.

It has been the pivot of City Council business for generations and I have a long memory of political meetings and conferences in this venue.

It's very important, in my opinion, to retain and maintain a sense of place and history, important for all of us to know what we are and where we come from.

Much of the history of Auckland and of New Zealand has been debated and decided in the 86 year history of the Town Hall.

When I opened the Population Conference yesterday, I raised issues about who we are, but more importantly, who we will become.

A little of who we are came through in traditional Maori greeting and oratory this morning.

It said that Auckland and New Zealand represented more than one cultural tradition.

>From that bridgehead, which is much more accepted today than ever before, we must now look forward to the next 86 years which takes us through to the year 2083.

By then the great new technology which has been incorporated into this now magnificent complex will have long since been replaced with even smarter technology.

But there is no technology that can warm up the heart of the nation.

That has to come from within, from the collective spirit of the nation.

Naturally I have reflected on many issues in recent days, not about myself but about our country.

We seem to lack a genuine capacity to enjoy and celebrate success unless it is in sport.

I hope Aucklanders will celebrate the restoration of this magnificent Town Hall.

For a brief moment it looked as though we were going to show vision and courage in completing the original Parliament Buildings.

Then MPs panicked and walked away.

There is more to life than balance sheets.

The community by pooling its resources either through rates or taxes can from time to time enhance the life of the nation by investments of great value.

My prayer is that New Zealanders, who are warm people by nature, will allow that warmth to show through by the generous recognition of achievement everywhere.

And is it too much to ask our media to spend a little more time and space on the encouragement of community effort rather than an almost total diet of woe?

The City Council under the leadership of Mayor Les Mills has shown a commendable commitment to both history and the future by this Town Hall project.

I congratulate them on it.

Our architecture, the buildings from the turn of the century while derivative in one sense are also uniquely early New Zealand.

The Edwardian influence is evident in the facades of many of those that remain up and down the country, and uniformly reflect the aspirations and hopes of a young nation coming to terms with its own identity early in this century.

But beyond the facade these buildings had a colonial flavour drawn from the New Zealand environment and unique in itself.

This is a magnificent restoration you can all take pride in.

The bulldozers so ready to move in during the '80s have been kept at bay and the result of thoughtful and creative planning is a facility that far exceeds the concept of just a Town Hall.

Just two years ago I spent time here over the period of the CHOGM conference in Auckland where this building was the media and information centre.

Restoration was about to get underway and the place was still a pretty sad and run down, albeit with a still impressive facade.

Now both externally and interiorly it is the jewel in the Aotea Centre's crown.

So today we are here to celebrate the return of the Council to the Town Hall, the renovation of a significant part of Auckland's history, and the opening of a new entertainment complex and auditorium equal to the best in the world.

I congratulate all concerned with the project- the craftsmanship, the research and the planning have all contributed to a venue all of Auckland can celebrate as we go into the millennium.

Seeing all of this I'm sure your planned upgrade of the Civic Theatre down the road will be equally successful.

Congratulations. Well done.