Tales of the past, present, and future have been shared at the opening celebration of the University’s new River’s Edge building at Inveresk which brought together more than 200 people on Friday, 28 July.
While wet weather hampered plans for outdoor proceedings that included a smoking ceremony directly outside in the Riawunna Garden, it didn’t dampen the spirit of the event’s key speakers.
Each offered unique perspectives of the site’s deep time connections, how the campus is creating a sense of belonging for everyone and importantly, its ongoing community legacy.
The University’s Riawunna Centre for Education delivered a powerful welcome and introduction at the event.
Head of Service, Dave Warrener, commenced the proceedings by acknowledging Riawunna’s transition from Newnham where it was present for more than 30 years, to now being on the ground floor of River’s Edge where cultural knowledges continue to be embedded.
“Riawunna organised a connections and reflections of Riawunna Newnham farewell gathering at the old site around the old fire pit and ceremonial area,” Dave said.
“At the conclusion of the gathering, and after the fire had been discarded, the ashes from the final fire at Newnham were gathered. These will soon be used for the lighting of the very first fire in the fire pit here at Inveresk with Uncle Rex and Aunty Lola Greeno.”
Aboriginal pakana community member and cultural knowledge holder Janice Ross shared a special Welcome spoken in palawa kani which was supported with a cultural dance performance by the Everett Dancers.
“This is a place of knowledge, learning and teaching, reflection, respect and a place of belonging for the Aboriginal community, University community and the wider community,” Janice said.
“This is a very special time for the University community where we share our knowledges and connect with each other to grow our experiences of culture, life, study and work together with purpose and continuum.”
All three levels of Government were represented at the event – key funding partners that have helped realise the Northern Transformation vision to increase educational access and outcomes in greater Launceston through the creation of a new Inveresk campus.
“It’s such a beautiful example of what we should be doing with the built environment, bringing people together, multi-use, being able to actually study, learn, play and work in such an incredibly special place,” Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King said.
Those sentiments were echoed by Federal Labor counterpart Senator Carol Brown.
“How lucky are the future generations of UTAS students to have this as their new campus and to have the building opening to the community. How wonderful it is to share this incredible asset with the people who call this place home.”
Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff highlighted the building’s extraordinary craftsmanship referencing its sustainable and innovative features, use of Tasmanian materials and services, and how the project – led by construction firm Fairbrother – had supported around 500 jobs and training opportunities for 74 apprentices.
“This building really is about what Tasmanians are all about and that is the quiet pursuit of the extraordinary,” Premier Rockliff said.
“I am interested to learn that we have achieved in this building a thirty-two per cent reduction in embodied carbon. That’s the importance of course of bringing the low carbon concrete, our wonderful sustainable timbers that capture that carbon, the recycled gas pipelines and passive solar principles just to name a few.”
City of Launceston Mayor Matthew Garwood spoke to an exciting future of opportunities.
“The UTAS Transformation project, an investment of some $640 million is the largest infrastructure investment in Launceston’s history and will ultimately be an iconic development and an asset for our city for generations to come,” Mayor Garwood said.
“The vision of creating a university campus and city of learning is certainly alive and thriving with those now working, studying and living right on the doorstep of our CBD which is incredibly exciting not only for the CBD but the flow-on effects through our beautiful North and all of Tasmania.”
University Vice-Chancellor Professor Rufus Black thanked everyone from across the community who has played a part in bringing the River’s Edge building to life.
“The legacy of this building won’t actually be the gorgeous stones and spaces, it will be the people who come through here, the lives that are changed because we made education as a community more accessible to more people and provided them with the very best of the facilities so that wherever they come from in Tasmania, they can get an education as good as you would find anywhere in the world,” Professor Black said.
The event MC for the day was Pro Vice-Chancellor (Launceston) Professor Dom Geraghty with the program also including a special presentation about the vision for the building’s architecture by John Wardle of Wardle Studio which designed River’s Edge.
Local café operator Loose Goose provided a delicious lunch for those attending the celebration event with guests also able to join a tour of the building and precinct with the help of project team members Dani Probert and Julie Maule, and also Sarah Wilson-Bassett from the College of Arts Law and Education (CALE).