“It actually feels like we must be making some progress,” said Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, opening a new 6 Green Star-rated $329 million Auckland office block.
He was with Ted Manson of Mansons TCLM at the new Fidelity Life HQ at 136 Fanshawe St,a building that achieved practical completion seven months ago and has been fully tenanted for months.
But Covid delayed its formal opening three times.
Robertson indicated that the event was a sign of hope for business. Although attendee numbers were smaller than they might have been, the opening originally scheduled for last August was now finally happening, he said.
“It does feel to me like the light at the end of the tunnel,” he told guests including Green Building Council chief executive Andrew Eagles.
The new building was an eye-opener, he said.
“Terrarium was not a word that I knew until I started learning about this,” Robertson joked, referring to the MC offices which have 1600 live plants on the top floor of the new twin-building complex with public accessway through it and beside it from Fanshawe St to Hardinge St.
“It’s an extraordinary achievement to deliver a building like this in the period of time we’ve been through,” Robertson said, referring to months of lockdowns where all but essential construction work was barred.
“I want to acknowledge your personal vision, not just in this building but in all the buildings that you build,” Robertson told Mansons, referring to KiwiBank’s new Auckland HQ, Te Kupenga.
“From a central Government point of view, when we know that we can act in partnership with the private sector, it makes a big difference to us,” Robertson told the Manson and MC team at the opening.
The Government was learning from what Mansons had achieved with Kiwibank’s Te Kupenga and other sites, he said.
“For me, one of the most important things in coming into a building like this is not just the businesses but most especially the people here. We’ve heard a lot lately about people enjoying working from home and there’s no doubt there have been some benefits.
“I have a fundamental belief that people are social beings and our wellbeing is driven by connections we have with others and buildings like this create those connections,” he said.
Glen Heath, chief executive of Mansons and The Ted Manson Foundation, said the new building was the most expensive the company had developed, nearly double that of the Lumley Centre on Shortland St.
In 2019, PAG Group’s CC Artemis Trust of Asia wonOverseas Investment Office consent to buy the building from Mansons Fanshawe for $329.9m.
Heath told guests Manson now spent almost all his time working with the foundation, on community and philanthropic ventures.
Manson told the guests his favourite features were the building’s “public aspects” including exterior and interior street-connecting walkways.
He thanked tenants who had made it their new home: MC, Fidelity Life, 2degrees, Tower and Lion New Zealand.
Although the Green Building Council rated the block 6-Star, MC and 2degrees had gone a step further by voluntarily achieving WELL certification for interior fitouts, Manson said.
Mansons would now follow that lead and all future developments would aim for that higher standard, he said, praising fresh air and natural light.
The foundation had bought five new 30-seater buses in the last month: three for low-decile south Auckland schools and two for the Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation.
Manson said he spent most of his time meeting with school principals and Government agencies, examining how the foundation could assist financially.
The foundation had donated around $500,000 to the new $110m Auckland City Mission building, HomeGround. In the last year alone, it had given $300,000, accounts showed.
Five ambulances were donated to St John. Each Mercedes cost around $250,000 fully equipped, Manson said.
“Every year, I buy them one,” Manson said of the ambulance donations.
Sir Ray Avery’s new anti-domestic violence campaign [email protected], money for school musical instruments, computers and wifi, Make A Wish and Give A Kid A Blanket were other charities Manson cited at the opening.
“I have so much money to give away. We just can’t give the money away quick enough,” Manson said, referring to meetings being cancelled or postponed due to Covid.
Last year, the foundation gave away $786,000, taking total donations to $2.9m. Its $119m developments of social housing in Auckland CBD and at Glen Eden is in addition to that.
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