This month, the new student hub for the University of Canterbury will open, leaving University of Auckland students to wonder when the current dusty student union building might be replaced.
The new student hub, named Haere-roa (meaning longest stream or longest wanderer) replaces the previous University of Canterbury Students’ Association’s (UCSA) building which was severely damaged in the earthquake in February 2011. The new building will maintain a 51% ownership by UCSA. The building occupies 4000 square metres and contains an office space, a bar, social space, two performance areas and connects to an outdoor amphitheatre that overlooks the ōtakaro Avon River.
Finances for the new building came from an insurance claim, alongside investments from the university and the Student Association. Alumni were also encouraged to donate money by sponsoring seats in the new Ngaio Marsh Performance Centre. The new building will be an asset to students of the University who benefit from the wider redevelopment of the city alongside their university. The University of Canterbury recently maintained its ranking as 231th in the QS University Rankings – it is currently the fourth highest-ranked university in the country.
In contrast to the University of Canterbury, the current UOA student union building was erected approximately 50 years ago on City Campus – with the most recent change to the building being the demolishing of the Maidement Theatre following failure to pass earthquake tests. Since then, the space previously occupied by the theatre has remained vacant, a sparse reminder to students of the now missing part of the university building and the lack of performance space. Craccum hopes that it won’t take a disaster for the University to consider investment in the redevelopment of the Student Union building alongside the current redevelopment of the recreation centre.