Officials pay tribute at opening of centre

Attending the official opening of the University of Otago's new Hunter Centre are vice-chancellor...
Attending the official opening of the University of Otago's new Hunter Centre are vice-chancellor Prof David Skegg (centre) and children of the late medical dean, Prof John Hunter, (from left) Dr Mike Hunter, Tim Hunter, Caroline Hunter and Andrew Hunter. Photo by Jane Dawber.
The University of Otago's newest teaching and learning facility, the $9.6 million Hunter Centre, was officially opened yesterday by vice-chancellor Prof David Skegg.

Located in Great King St, opposite the university School of Dentistry and Dunedin Hospital, the two-level facility provides 1690sq m of teaching, study, social, retail and administrative space.

Regarded as a world-class health science facility, the centre is the first structure in Dunedin designed to meet the New Zealand Green Building Council's green star rating system for sustainable buildings.

At an opening function, Otago University Council member Edward Ellison gave a Maori greeting, and Prof Skegg paid tribute to the late Prof John Hunter, a leading Otago medical researcher, administrator and teacher.

Prof Hunter was a distinguished cardiologist and an inspirational teacher, who had long served the university in several capacities, including as a medical faculty dean and pro-vice-chancellor, health sciences, Prof Skegg said.

He paid tribute to all those who helped make the centre a reality, helping to counter an acute shortage of teaching and research space at the Otago Medical School.

The centre would not have been possible without a government decision to increase funding for medical and dentistry education, he said.

One of Prof Hunter's children, Dr Mike Hunter, a consultant surgeon and clinical director of the intensive care service at Dunedin Hospital, said naming the centre after his father was a "fantastic" tribute.

About 100 people attended the opening function, including Science Minister Pete Hodgson, Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin, pro-chancellor, health sciences, Prof Don Roberton, and many present and retired university professors.

The complex, which caters for undergraduate health science students, contains small and large seminar rooms, a computer laboratory, offices, a cafe, and an open area for informal meetings and socialising.

The building has been designed to make most efficient use of energy and reflects the sustainable use of resources.

Rainwater from the roof is stored below ground to meet some of the building's water needs.


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