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Society want observatory to stay

??GISBORNE Astronomical Society would be devastated if the James Cook Observatory on Kaiti Hill was demolished with no replacement, says society president John Drummond.

It was with consternation that he heard of the Future Tairawhiti committee decision the day after Thursday’s meeting.

Gisborne District Council failed to notify him.

“GDC rightly identifies the top of Titirangi Reserve as a special cultural and tourist attraction,” he said.

“It is a very popular spot and affords one of the most beautiful coastal vistas in Aotearoa.”

The Gisborne Astronomical Society has leased the Cook Observatory on Kaiti Hill from the council for about 45 years.

It has long held the unique title as the “world’s eastern-most observatory”and has been the training ground for internationally recognised amateur astronomers.

So it was with some consternation he learned of the decision the next day without being notified.

“Naturally the Gisborne Astronomical Society (GAS) would be devastated if the observatory was demolished with no replacement.

“As stated at a previous council meeting, we would love to see a new observatory that not only permits GAS to hold regular weekly meetings and permit telescope viewing, but it could prove advantageous to use the new building as a small conference centre where local businesses could rent it out for daily meetings, etc.

“Having huge south and west facing windows in the conference/lecture room would be a major drawcard for corporates to pay money to the GDC for usage.

“The Gisborne Astronomical Society certainly doesn’t want sole occupation,” said Mr Drummond. “We would love others to enjoy the cultural, astronomical and aesthetic benefits that this site affords.

“Having navigational direction finders, models of the solar system, explanations regarding moon phases, voyaging by the stars, transits of Mercury and Venus (Cook) and so on would make visiting this site an enjoyable and educational experience, one that visitors would share with other potential tourists to Gisborne.”

SAVE IT OR REPLACE IT? The James Cook Observatory on top of Kaiti Hill. It has structural problems but the community supports having an astronomical observatory there .File picture