Attempts to get a proper governmental building for Hastings were taken up by the Governor-General, Sir Denis Blundell, at the official opening ceremony of the Hastings civic administration building yesterday.
Addressing about 400 people, Sir Denis noted the council had chosen a site for its building where there was room for later development ‘‘particularly if the Government joins in’.
State participation would help make it a centre of government both locally and nationally, he said.
It would be more convenient for people to go to one Government office instead of having to ‘‘wander around various roads’’.
(In agitating for the Government to build a departmental building in the Civic Square area, the council has pointed out that existing Government departments are scattered in separate offices throughout the city, with the Social Welfare Department operating from three separate buildings.)
Sir Denis congratulated the Hastings City Council for departing from the ‘‘longitudinal, rectangular’’ concept of building which he had seen in too many parts of New Zealand.
Architects had been allowed to have their rein and had brought a subtle charm as well as usefulness into the building.
Internally, the wide halls, passageways and stairs helped create a general atmosphere of tasteful decor, he said.
Sir Denis said he was “deeply impressed” by the structure.
Three trumpeters from the Hastings Citizens’ Band played on the mayoral balcony on the first floor as Sir Denis declared the building open and a commemorative plaque was unveiled.
The Mayor, Mr J. J. O’Connor, described the opening as an auspicious landmark in the life of Hastings and said the presence of the Governor-General had set the seal on the occasion.
The building was designed as a tangible expression of Hastings, neither a cold, grandiose monument nor a back-woods shack, he said.
He said it was all a far cry from the former municipal offices which nevertheless reflected some of the history of Hastings.
After the official opening, which was held in perfect sunny weather, the official party attended a buffet meal on the third floor.
To mark Sir Denis’ retirement in four months, Mr O’Connor presented him with a decorated stoneware platter “as a token of our gratitude and esteem”.
Later in the afternoon, Sir Denis visited Napier. He was welcomed by the Mayor, Mr Clyde Jeffery, at the civic buildings where he had afternoon tea with city councillors and other guests, including Sir Peter Tait.
Sir Peter later showed the Governor-General around the Hawke’s Bay Aquarium, assisted by the aquarium curator, Mr Gordon Dine.