On Saturday in Russell, we had the privilege of opening a remarkable Learning Centre to provide opportunities for school groups from across New Zealand and internationally, tertiary groups, corporate leadership retreats, church groups, families and even as a function centre for a wedding.
The Bay of Islands Exploration Centre is located at the highest point in Russell facing North and looking over the Pacific Ocean dotted with the wonderful islands. Through sharing accommodation with Orongo Bay Holiday Park and Titore Lodge we can host up to 70 people for accommodation.
In terms of learning, provision staff from the Villa Education Trust will be available each morning for school groups to work through some key features of our Project-Based Curriculum. We will also have three units that look at pre-human New Zealand, from the arrival of the Maori through to 1776, and then the coming of European people (including why) and our history since.
Now that NZ History is compulsory in New Zealand schools there will be no better place to learn it. The site is equipped with 5 cabins, ablution blocks, commercial kitchen & laundry and a gorgeous main ‘classroom’, and we are now developing an outdoor amphitheatre and stage with a view over Long Beach and towards Cape Brett, and we will have absolutely world-class astronomy equipment and teaching.
We are partnering with many in the local community – including the education people at Waitangi, Omata Estate for beautiful meals, local recreation providers, our Russell Museum, and more. The history of the region and the language and culture of local Maori will be a large part of the experiences.
Groups that come to Bay Light can also design their own programme and have all of the freedoms, opportunities and beauties that the Bay of Islands provides.
Education in New Zealand has become stodgy in many ways and schools and educators from Primary to Tertiary have become risk-averse. This is a chance to do the highest-quality learning and interacting with your own children/people as well as the local community. I know Queenstown and Wanaka think that they are pretty but the Bay of Islands is a few weight classes above them.
On Saturday we had our opening. Titore Lodge hosted the food, music and art for the start of Bay Light. We had beautiful music from Steve Southworth and five gorgeous Shane Hansen originals to ogle. We then went up to Bay Light and enjoyed seeing the place and listening to the plans.
We believe Bay Light will be a genuine asset to the Bay of Islands community as well as providing for all manner of groups in New Zealand and overseas. There are already a number of groups booked in from around New Zealand and also Punahou from Hawaii.