Hawkes Bay Holt Planetarium Trust.
In 1961 Napier businessman, Harold Holt (and former pupil of Napier Boys High
School) purchased the Planetarium Projector equipment, that was on display at
the annual Wellington Winter Show, from the East German optical company, Carl
Because of his interest in the sciences Mr Holt was happy to buy the equipment
for the public's enjoyment and gifted it to the city, when approached by the
then Napier Mayor, Sir Peter Tait.
The equipment was first housed in one of the old Henry Williams warehouses in
the Vauitier and Raffles Street area and during these initial years the
projector was transported to different venues, like the Pandora woolstores where
the Hawkes Bay Astronomical Society would put on a show. At the time of
purchase, the equipment included a collapsible cloth dome, however, this
subsequently perished over the passage of time.
In 1968, after some years in storage, the projector was relocated to a new site
in Herschell Street adjacent to the Museum and subsequently alongside the
Lilliput Tourist attraction. A new plaster dome and Planetarium viewing room was
constructed by the Council and this facility still stands today, but unused.
In it's early days the Planetarium was well patronized but over the years
numbers dropped off due to lack of promotion and new programmes being available
on a manual machine. The site was becoming outdated as the years rolled on and
essential improvements were required to the acoustics, the seating and static
displays. In order to keep pace with modern trends, considerable sums needed to
be spent but unfortunately that did not occur, and in 1988 the Napier City
Council decided to close the Planetarium and mothball the equipment.
The desire to restart the Planetarium came from members of the Hawkes Bay
Astronomy Society and the President, Mr Jack Dunlop, in 1991 started
negotiations with the Napier City Council. The plan was to relocate the
Planetarium alongside one of the Marine Parade tourist attractions and initial
discussions centred on the proposed Aquarium redevelopment to make use of their
existing resources. However, no progress was made and the proposal was dropped.
In mid 1996 the project was revived once more with staff from the Carter
Observatory confirming that the stored projector equipment was in excellent
working condition. A working party was formed and following a visit to the
Carter Observatory Planetarium in December 1996 plans were formulated to push
ahead with modernisation and redevelopment on a site at Napier Boys High
Sir Ian Axford, a world renowned scientist, and also an old boy of Napier Boys High School was keen to lend his support to the project by being the Settlor of
a Charitable Trust.
This trust was established on 16th May 1997.
Fundraising was successful and the Planetarium opened at its current location on
20 November 1998.