Some 100 staff, students and supporters attended a dawn blessing for the new student amenities centre and steel pou at the Albany campus on Wednesday.

The $15m building, dubbed Student Central and designed by architects at Warren and Mahoney, will provide a campus heart and hub for students.

The blessing was led by local kaumätua Pat Ruka (Ngäpuhi, Ngäti Porou, Ngäti Whätua), who took the crowd through the building’s two floors which house student facilities and services, including club rooms, retail, banking, food outlets, study support, health and counselling, and Mäori and Pasifika student services.

Albany Students’ Association president Stephan van Heerden says the centre will provide a highly visible and accessible permanent home for the association, and will help to foster a sense of community at the campus. He says this is “good timing” in light of the Voluntary Student Union Bill being passed last year, which has created uncertainty about the continuation of some student services, such as advocacy and class representatives.

“Student Central will be great for students to meet and hang out. It means they have a place to stay on campus, rather than just leaving after their lectures.”

“Each of the seven pou is a stepping stone of progression, acknowledging the personal and academic achievement of the students.”

The new centre will be open on February 20 for Orientation Week, with food stalls, market day, free sausage sizzles and live music, and an official opening ceremony will be held on March 23.

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