Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium was officially opened, blessed
and made ready for business early yesterday, just two years
after piles for the building were driven into the ground
beside the Otago harbour.
Prime Minister John Key did the honours at a stadium he said
would become known as "the house of pain and pleasure": pain
for visiting football teams and pleasure for its users.
The service began shortly after 7am, with a mana whenua dawn
Mr Key, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, Carisbrook Stadium Trust
chairman Malcolm Farry and officials entered the stadium to a
rousing haka by pupils from King's and Queen's High Schools.
Mr Key unveiled a plaque that read "My success is not the
success of one, but because of the success of many,": a Maori
proverb suggested by Ngai Tahu.
He told a crowd of about 500 at the opening the stadium was
"incredibly important" for the city of Dunedin, and for
He noted the $15 million the Government had provided for the
venue, which he said had been given because the future of the
city was linked to the strength of the University of Otago,
and the stadium was "integral to the growth of the university
and the medical school".
"It was my view the Government should step up to the plate."
Answering questions after the opening, he said he had "not
looked really closely" at the controversy over Dunedin City
It was confirmed late last week the council was $8 million a
year short of paying its debts, because Dunedin City Holdings
Ltd was unable to pay the dividends the council had asked of
Mr Key said there was always controversy when a project of
the stadium's size was built, but in his experience, it died
away once the project was completed.
Mr Cull strayed slightly from his speech notes, when he said
the stadium had been built "pretty much on time and on
budget. It is a phenomenal achievement, by any measure, very
worthy of celebration."
He paid tribute to Mr Farry, and the trust, which had been
behind the project "all the way through the entire process".
The vision of a stadium catering for the needs of the region
had been "vindicated" by the early booking of Elton John.
"More headline acts are in the pipeline, I understand," he
Mr Cull also paid tribute to the ratepayers of Dunedin, and
Otago, "who overwhelmingly, are paying for it".
He acknowledged many in the community felt the city could not
afford the venue.
"Few projects have ever so divided our community."
The city needed to bridge that divide now the stadium was
complete, as "we all have a common interest in making the
most of this magnificent stadium and making it fly".
Mr Farry said controversy around the funding issues would be
a major focus for the Dunedin City Council, but "it will be
said in hindsight this was the wise and correct decision to
The stadium was built at a lower cost than any other in New
Zealand, with a roof, "that will enable us to be the best -
not the biggest - but the best stadium in New Zealand", he
The formalities were followed by entertainment from the City
of Dunedin Choir, City of Dunedin Pipe Band, John McGlashan
College Pipe Band and vocalists Kawiti Waetford and Janine