Birds could bond city and university

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 13:52 01/12/2012

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A vision of Palmerston North as the world centre of wildlife soap operas has been suggested as one of the tangible gains to develop from Massey University and the city council working closer together.

Vice-chancellor Steve Maharey envisages dozens of stories like that of Happy Feet the penguin radiating from the city once a new rehabilitation aviary is set up at the Victoria Esplanade for birds treated at Massey University's Wildbase centre.

He said it was one of the opportunities the city had to create a knowledge-led community by making relationships with Massey and the research institutes part of every day business.

He was speaking at a post-graduation function yesterday to witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that acknowledges and builds on the university's contribution to the city and region's growth.

Mr Maharey said the development of rehabilitation aviaries at The Esplanade to provide a sheltered halfway home for birds treated at Massey's Wildbase facility before their return to the wild was one of the most exciting developments already underway.

The city council has $100,000 in this year's budget, and $737,000 next year, to build the rehabilitation centre where the public will be able to see and learn about the creatures and their stories.

"It means those birds will move out to a place in the city, and we will have a real amenity. It is an opportunity to make this a centre for the world."

Mr Maharey said yesterday's function was an important acknowledgement of the past, including the recent joint bid to attract the New Zealand Cycling Centre of Excellence, that was lost to Waikato.

There were still sporting developments the two could achieve, he said.

"It is not just that history has been useful, or that we are all friends, it's about what we can do in practice to make this a knowledge-fed part of new Zealand, so we can get rich, protect the environment, because we can afford to, and be socially just, also because we can afford to be."

Mayor Jono Naylor said the agreement cemented a relationship that is beneficial to both the city and region.

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- Manawatu Standard

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