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Wednesday 22 June 2022 4:11pm

Attendees at site blessing ceremony for University of Otago, Christchurch redevelopment image
Left to right: “Aunty” Liz Kereru (Ngāi Tūāhuriri), UOC Dean and Head of Campus Professor Suzanne Pitama (Ngāti Kahungunu/Ngāti Whare), University of Otago Chief Operating Officer Stephen Willis, Tira-Roa Reuben (Ngāi Tūāhuriri); Maaka Tau (Ngāi Tūāhuriri) and Jamie Te Karu (Ngāi Tūāhuriri) at the site blessing ceremony for the new UOC campus building.

Construction of the University of Otago, Christchurch's new campus building took an important, symbolic step forward last week with an official on-site blessing ceremony.

The blessing, kindly officiated by mana whenua from Ngāi Tūāhuriri, paves the way for Stage 2 ground construction to now commence at the Oxford Terrace site – part of the Te Papa Hauora Health Precinct.

A gathering of leaders from the University of Otago Projects Team, University of Otago Christchurch campus staff, Leighs Construction, plus mana whenua from Ngāi Tūāhuriri and the Ratana Church attended the ceremony in the early June afternoon sunshine.

Project Director Donna Howell says the blessing was a meaningful step forward for the project.

“The conditions were perfect and it felt auspiciously positive. The highlight of the occasion for us was having the team from Leighs Construction present, and the team having the opportunity to reflect on the immense progress made so far as well as look forward with the ground works now underway.”

The blessing began with a karakia carried out by Maaka Tau from Ngāi Tūāhuriri, followed by a waiata. Two spades were then produced for the symbolic “turning of the sod” first dig.

Turning of the sod at University of Otago, Christchurch redevelopment site blessing ceremony image
University of Otago Chief Operating Officer Stephen Willis and Tira-Roa Reuben turn the first sod at the new UOC campus building site.

Dean and Head of the Christchurch Campus Professor Suzanne Pitama says it was an auspicious day for the future of the whole campus.

“The ceremony was important to both bless the site and usher in a sense of positivity and kaitiakitanga for the build stage ahead, bringing together not just those involved in the day-to-day running of the project, but our staff and local mana whenua, whose support is so vital.”

Excavation of the lower ground floor has now commenced, and McMillan Drilling are drilling and testing bores for the building's ground-source heat pump system.

Further information

For further information about the project, contact:


For enquiries relating to this news article, contact:

Lorelei Mason
Communications Advisor
University of Otago, Christchurch
Mob +64 21 555 024

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