Asia’s largest airline has joined the University of Canterbury (UC) in a new partnership which will benefit Tekapo and the Mackenzie District.
Christchurch Airport today hosted a delegation from China Southern Airlines, representatives of the University of Canterbury, Mackenzie District Mayor Graham Smith, and local Tekapo residents on the summit of Mt John.
The event centred on the signing of an agreement announcing China Southern Airlines as an official partner of the iconic University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory. The University Observatory is New Zealand’s pre-eminent optical research observatory and sits at the heart of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.
This partnership also supports tourism in Tekapo, with ten per cent of the agreement’s funding provided to the Mackenzie District Council for tourism infrastructure in Tekapo.
Mackenzie District Council Mayor Graham Smith welcomed the partnership.
“China Southern Airlines is showing a real commitment in this partnership to enhance the visitor experience at Tekapo.”
UC Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr says he hopes the partnership with China Southern Airlines is a sign of strong ties between the two countries.
“China is the largest and fastest growing international market for student recruitment at UC, so strengthening relationships with key organisations there will support that growth and provide students with employment opportunities.”
Christchurch Airport Chief Executive Malcolm Johns says the sponsorship demonstrates the warm relationship between Asia’s largest airline and the South Island.
“China Southern Airlines showed confidence in starting its direct services to Christchurch. It saw such great uptake in the first year, the airline increased the number of flights and has quickly shown its willingness to be right alongside the South Island. This sponsorship is a direct show of support for an area Chinese visitors love to visit.”
China Southern Airlines Australasian Managing Director Louis Lu says the airline is delighted to sponsor the Mt John Observatory.
“This is a great opportunity to support the University of Canterbury and Mt John Observatory. We all share an interest in discovering more about the amazing space that is the sky. China Southern explores it from an aviation perspective, the team at UC and the observatory research its secrets and showcase the amazing stargazing opportunities it offers. This is a meaningful partnership which benefits both the tourism and the scientific worlds.”
The University’s observatory has world-class facilities which enable UC staff and students to carry out cutting-edge astronomical research in a number of different areas, including the search for extra-solar planets, the tracking of near-earth objects and the study of pulsating, variable and exploding stars.
Public access to the observatory is through its partnership with local astro-tourism operator Earth & Sky Ltd, which manages the private road to the facilities and the café, and runs night-time viewing of the stars through the high-powered telescopes at the University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory.