Nexus sat down with Vice-Chancellor Neil Quigley to ask him if the Pā is on track. While we had his attention we thought we would take the opportunity to check in about a student bar, a Village Green that people could use for more than two weeks in a year, and whether we could finally get baked (goods) on Campus.
Nexus: How is construction on The Pā going? Have there been any unexpected roadblocks or issues? Will it come in on budget? Quigley: Construction on The Pā is going very well. Although there have been unexpected issues in the form of some minor weather delays and uncovering some underground service lines whose location wasn’t well documented, work is progressing on time and on budget. We appreciate students’ understanding of any disruption caused due to the construction, and their ongoing patience as work on The Pā continues.
Nexus: Did the recent report and task force work impact any aspect of The Pā project? Quigley: No, The Pā was always a best practice example of partnership and consultation, so it did not require any changes.
Nexus: Can you tell us more about the commercial and food plans for the space? Quigley: We are still in negotiation with potential vendors, so it is too early to say exactly what will be in The Pā, but we hope that the offering will include a bakery.
Nexus: Is there scope for it to be used as a concert venue in the future? What about graduations? Quigley: Graduations, yes, but it is not acoustically designed to be a concert venue, though it will be fine for informal performances.
Nexus: What will happen to the University’s existing marae after the construction of The Pā? Quigley: That is a matter for discussion at present, but no decisions have been made.
Nexus: The University has recently been working on a new strategic plan, will we see an extension to the GAPA, and what would that look like? Quigley: Yes, at some point, though it is not clear at the moment when our capital budget will be able to accommodate it (given the financial challenges provided by COVID).
Nexus: What happened to the sports precinct? is that still something in development? Quigley: The development of a sports precinct is probably on a much longer time horizon.
Nexus: What will happen to spaces like Pūtikitiki after the construction of The Pā? Quigley: We are considering different retail options for that space. There will be a dedicated space for the students who use Pūtikitiki in The Pā.
Nexus: Have you heard how the vintage clothing space is doing? Quigley: Rewind by Hospice is trading very well. The initiative appears successful so far.
Nexus: What is happening with The Village Green? We are still hearing rumours that a stage may be built on the lake. Quigley: I think whoever is pushing those rumours might have been smoking some of the strange smelling tobacco.
Nexus: Are there still plans to astroturf that because we stole turf samples out of the WSU office that had been sitting there for like five years? Quigley: We have looked at astroturf as an option for ensuring The Village Green can be used in all weather conditions, but it is too restrictive. We do have plans to install drainage to the grassed area that we think will help this.
Nexus: Is campus stickability still a consideration when you are talking about activating the campus in the evenings? Quigley: Yes, we would like to have more options for students to remain on campus into the early evening, including some food outlets staying open.
Nexus: Could we ever see a return of a student nightclub like the Whaling Bongo here in the 90s before it became UniRec’s weights room? Quigley: When The Pā is complete, the plan is still to turn the ground floor of Oranga into a student pub. How it is used in the evening will be up to the students (after consultation with the University, of course). But what worked in the 1990s won’t necessarily work now as patterns of socialising and drinking have changed a lot.
Nexus: We know you keep ducking us on this saying it isn’t the VC’s role to know these things but where is our bakery? Quigley: As above, we’re hoping to get a bakery offering into The Pā.
Nexus: What is your favourite feature on campus? Quigley: Te Aurei
Nexus: If you could build one thing (a bar, a movie theatre, etc.) what would it be?