Who we are
Stardome and its team have been sharing a love of space from its premises in Auckland’s One Tree Hill Domain since 1967. A place of exploration, research and sharing of knowledge Stardome has been regularly open for public viewing evenings and daytime visits for school trips ever since. If you went to school in Auckland or the surrounding area you probably remember your first trip to Stardome as a kid. In 1997, NZ’s first and still largest Planetarium theatre was constructed and opened on the site.
Stardome and its team have been sharing a love of space from its premises in Auckland’s One Tree Hill Domain since 1967.
A place of exploration, research and sharing of knowledge the Observatory has been regularly open for public viewing evenings and daytime visits for school trips ever since. If you went to school in Auckland or the surrounding area you probably remember your first trip to Stardome as a kid.
In 1997, as a result of an ambitious vision from the Observatory Trustees and Management, following extensive public and private fundraising and with assistance from Auckland Council, NZ’s first Planetarium theatre was constructed and opened on the site, and the Auckland Observatory was renamed Stardome Observatory and Planetarium. Since this day it has remained a facility for people of all ages and interests to enjoy.
How did it all start?
Stardome’s rich history started in 1948, when the Auckland Astronomical Society began fundraising for a public observatory in Auckland. By 1956 they had significant funds, including a substantial bequest from Mrs Edith Winstone Blackwell for the purchase of a telescope for public use. The Society formed the Auckland Observatory and Planetarium Trust Board to build on these initial funds and provide for the construction and management of a new observatory.
In 1960 One Tree Hill Borough Council provided a 21-year lease, which has been subsequently extended, for a site in One Tree Hill Domain which is where the Observatory and Planetarium operates from today. In March 1967 the Observatory opened without a Planetarium, as at this stage the Auckland Museum was operating a Planetarium which had been donated by the Farmers Trading Company in 1958.
The Planetarium at the Museum closed in 1989, allowing the Observatory the opportunity to build a replacement Planetarium. Fundraising was undertaken with a clear vision to provide the country with the best facility possible.
Nearly $3 million was raised for the project, with major funding coming from the Lotteries Commission, the ASB Community Trust and a loan from Auckland City Council; many donations were also received from the public of Auckland. The new planetarium and associated facilities opened in February 1997 and remains the largest and most advanced in New Zealand.
The Zeiss star projector and panorama slide projectors were replaced in 2008 with a fully digitised system from Evans & Sutherland. The major fundraising effort also included upgrades and refurbishement of the seating and projection screen in the Planetarium. Stardome now provides the Auckland region and New Zealand with leading-edge planetarium technology coupled with expert personalised assistance from our team of astronomy educators and presenters.
In 2010 Stardome Trustees and Management embarked on an upgrade inside its premises building interactive displays and exhibits housing materials from space and The new foyer displays and exhibits were opened in September 2010 and add another dimension to our visitor experience.
Our mission is to teach and promote the science of astronomy and the Stardome is able to offer visitors the experience of learning together with entertainment in a planetarium environment. Visitors are also able to view the night sky through smaller telescopes guided by knowledgeable volunteers.
The Stardome experience takes an immersive simulated environment and turns it into reality. This is a unique combination, and Auckland is one of the few cities worldwide that are able to offer both methods in one facility.
Stardome Observatory and Planetarium is grateful for the significant support it receives from the ratepayers of the Auckland region and Auckland Council, through the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board.
We also thank the following organisations and individuals for their generous contribution to Stardome:
ASB Community Trust
Asia New Zealand Foundation
Auckland Astronomical Society
Century Foundation Ltd
Chisholm Whitney Family Charitable Trust
Clement T Bostock
Edith Winstone Blackwell Foundation
Manukau City Council
Mercury Energy Limited
Mt Wellington Trust
New Zealand Lottery Grants board
Oxford Sports Trust
Sir John Logan Campbell Residuary Estate
Sir Po-Shing Woo
Sky City Auckland Community Trust
The Four Winds Foundation
The Lion Foundation
The Southern Trust
The Trusts Charitable Foundation
Stardome’s vision, mission and management is guided by the Auckland Observatory and Planetarium trust board.
CHAIRPERSON – Ross Sharp
BE (Civil), MNZIE, P. Eng (BC), MIOD
Mr Sharp has been a member of the Trust Board since 2005 and he chaired the Project Control Group for the recent digital planetarium upgrade. He has recently retired as company director and Senior Principal for Business Development, of URS New Zealand, an Engineering and Environmental Management Consultancy, but continues to provide management advice to URS. Currently a member of the Institute of Directors, Ross has been involved in civil, environmental and transportation engineering consulting for 43 years in New Zealand (25 years), Canada (15 years) and Malaysia (3 years). He has also been a Member of the Board for the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland since 2003.
TREASURER – Ian Malcolm
CA, CPA, Fellow NZTA, JP
Mr Malcolm is a Chartered Accountant with wide-ranging taxation and commercial business experience and has been in public practice in New Zealand for over 25 years. He is a director with MHK Chartered Accountants Ltd, a long-established and well-respected chartered accounting firm in Central Auckland, a Fellow of the New Zealand Trustees Association, and a long-serving member of the Institute of Directors.. He was born and bred in Auckland, is actively involved in business establishment and growth, and currently sits on the Boards of both public and private companies. Community involvements include being appointed Treasurer of the Stardome Observatory in 2005, Treasurer of a School Board of Trustees, honorary auditor of sports clubs, church parish committee involvements and a Justice of the Peace.
Trustee, HONORARY RESEARCH ASTRONOMER, President AAS
Dr Grant Christie PhD, MPhil, BSc, FRASNZ, MNZM
Dr Christie is a research scientist who worked for 25 years in bio-medical engineering. He has maintained his life-long interest in astronomy and has been associated with the Auckland Observatory since it opened in 1967. Grant is President of the Auckland Astronomical Society, the largest in NZ, and has served 16 years as a Board Trustee with four of these as Chair. He is a member of the International Astronomical Union, the governing body for professional astronomy, and leads an active research programme at the Stardome Observatory that contributes to three major international collaborations. Grant has authored over 60 peer-reviewed research publications in astronomy and other fields. He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of NZ (RASNZ) and for services to astronomy he became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2006.
TRUSTEE – Margaret Arthur
M Ed, BSc, DipTchg
Ms Arthur is a secondary teacher at Auckland Girls’ Grammar School with more than 25 years of experience. She has a PR in Science and is currently introducing the new strand of Science into her school. This new strand is Earth and Space Science which covers astronomy, geology and earth system science. She also teaches in the bilingual unit. Margaret has extensive experience with NCEA at all levels. She has been a member of the Auckland Astronomical Society since 1997 and runs a monthly ‘Young Astronomers’ group for them. Margaret chairs the Education Consultative Group for the Stardome’s LEOTC contract and has run professional development for the education presenter staff. Margaret has been a Board Trustee since 2001.
TRUSTEE – David Hosking
FCIS, AAMINZ, MPINZ
Mr Hosking has been on the Board since 2000. He is the Principal in a Business Consultancy practice which was established in 1987 and advises companies on corporate finance, investment due diligence as well as accounting and governance matters. David also assists companies with contract negotiations involving business acquisitions and divestments. As an experienced Mediator and Arbitrator he is involved in resolving business and rural disputes. David has farming interests and a strong commitment to his local community. He was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship in 1997 for services to the community through Rotary.
TRUSTEE – Jeanette Paine
APR, BA, Dip Journalism
Ms Paine has been a member of the Trust Board since 2004. She has over 20 years experience in marketing and communications and currently runs her own marketing consultancy. She has worked for a wide range of organisations including Unitec Institute of Technology, THE EDGE, Netball New Zealand, Compaq Computer and BellSouth (now Vodafone) and Workbase. She also serves as a trustee on the board of Mothers Helpers, a not for profit focussed on post-natal mother’s health.
TRUSTEE – Richard Northey
MA(Hons), BSc, ONZM
Richard Northey is an elected Auckland Councillor who has chaired its Economic Development Committee, its Audit and Risk Committee and now its Accountability and Performance Committee. He joined the Auckland Astronomical Society at age 9 and won its O’Sullivan Prize at 14. His BSc is in Chemistry and Physics and his MA in Political Studies. Richard was an Auckland University Lecturer in Political Studies and then in Planning and was an Auckland MP for nine years during which time he chaired the Justice and Law Reform; Electoral Law; Education and Science; and Regulations Review Select Committees. Richard chairs the Auckland/Northland Zone of Local Government New Zealand, the Auckland District Council of Social Services and Auckland Community Housing Trust.
TRUSTEE – Andrew Buckingham
Mr Buckingham has a passionate interest in public astronomy. He was a chief presenter and then operations, finance and retail manager at Stardome Observatory for 11 years from the opening of the planetarium in 1997. Prior to this he was a volunteer and public night co-ordinator. He was editor and producer of the NZ Astronomical Yearbook for the 2000-2005 editions and remains a contributor, while currently managing Astronomy NZ Ltd supplying telescopes to the NZ market. He is a member and Treasurer of the Auckland Astronomical Society, the International Planetarium Society and the South-eastern Planetarium Association. Previously he was Operations Manager for Jon Buckingham Ltd, an electrical engineering and manufacturing company and led their copy-type division with desktop publishing and office services
TRUSTEE – Geoff Mason
Geoff Mason has a degree in chemical and materials engineering with a graduate diploma in business management and is a member of the Institute of Directors Geoff has 31 years experience since graduation including one and half years with Solid Energy and five years with Thames Water Asia/Pacific Pty Ltd in Melbourne Australia. During that time he was responsible for managing the engineering procurement and construction of water and wastewater projects in Australia and Asia. He worked at North Shore City Council for nine years and was General Manager of Water Services responsible for 220 staff.
HONORARY SECRETARY – Kevin Murphy NZCE
Mr Murphy has been the Board Secretary since 1991. He was most recently employed as a Telecommunications Network Designer with Visionstream’s Ultra Fast Broadband team. Prior to this he served 10 years as an Engineering Consultant with Kordia and 26 years with the Airways Corporation of New Zealand and has a professional background in communications/broadcast facilities management and design and project management.
Stardome Observatory & Planetarium is an essential educational facility for Auckland and the wider New Zealand Community. We are a registered charitable trust governed by The Auckland Observatory and Planetarium Trust Board. Our mission is to share knowledge of space in ways that inspire, challenge and educate. We can’t do it alone though and the help of generous donations from individuals and organisations are necessary to keep us doing what we do best.
If you would like to make a donation or bequest to Stardome please fill out this form here and email to email@example.com or post to PO Box 24180, Royal Oak, Auckland 1345. We’d love to hear the details about your donation, how the funds were raised, who was involved, etc. Please email this information to our Marketing Team – firstname.lastname@example.org
Stardome is unique, being the only facility in the upper North Island with a publicly accessible astronomical observatory co-located with a planetarium, enabling our visitors to learn about Space and the Universe in the 360 degree planetarium theatre and during the evening observe stars and constellations through a range of telescopes.
Well over half of our visitors are children, many of whom come to us as part of the Stardome education programme. We work with teachers to provide educational content relevant to the curriculum at all levels and make science and astronomy exciting and interactive.
If you prefer, our popular Adopt a Star programme is another way that we raise valuable funds for the Stardome. For a $60 donation, you will receive an adoption certificate for a unique star and a ticket to one of our shows. These make a great birthday, Christmas or anniversary present for someone special, whilst supporting the Stardome to continue our valuable work. Click here and select ‘Adopt a Star’ for details.
We thank you for your generous support
You can support Stardome and become one of our recognised sponsors through a variety of opportunities. Here are just some of the many ways you can be involved:
- Sponsor an evening or weekend daytime show and have sponsorship naming rights to that show.
- Sponsor one our Special Tuesday night shows and have sponsorship naming rights to that show plus the chance to display your products and services to the audience of that show.
- Sponsor the purchase of new telescopes for our courtyard telescope viewing and have your organisation recognised on our promotional collateral and on our website.
- Sponsor the purchase of educational equipment for the Stardome’s educational or school holiday programmes and we will incorporate your organisation’s sponsorship details in our promotional collateral and on our website.
- Sponsor our Annual New Zealand Astronomical Yearbook and get a free advertisement in this publication.
- Sponsor our widely distributed marketing and promotional collateral and we will include your company details in our collateral.
Depending on the size and scope of your contribution, we may be able to provide your organisation with the opportunity to visit the Stardome and watch a planetarium show as a thank you for this support. You could use this as a special gift for your customers or to reward your staff.
To talk to us about becoming a Stardome sponsor and partnering with us to deliver educational and entertaining shows to the public, please contact our Marketing Team – email@example.com We would love to hear from you!