Southern sushi loomed appropriately large during the opening of a new, $25 million community facility in South Otago yesterday.
About 300 people joined a celebratory opening of the new Te Pou o Mata-Au Clutha District Memorial & Community Centre in Balclutha, which replaces the town’s former War Memorial Hall.
Following formalities, guests were served favourite Deep South delicacy cheese rolls — also known as Southern sushi — and the tasty treat was also alluded to during opening speeches.
Thanking the multipurpose facility’s many governmental, charitable and local community funders, Clutha Community Hub Charitable Trust secretary Natasha Munro said their collective generosity had saved the committee from needing to make ‘‘80 million’’ cheese rolls.
‘‘The community asked for a facility that reflected the character of the district, and that could be accessed flexibly in a range of ways that allowed for existing and new uses to occur.
‘‘Thanks to the generosity of our funders, we’ve been able to deliver on those goals, and been saved from making 80 million cheese rolls, which would have been the equivalent fundraising cost.’’
She said the centre — which includes a 568-seat auditorium — was so flexible, it could be used for everything from the annual shearing champs to the visiting New Zealand Ballet.
‘‘That’s distinctly Clutha,’’ she said.
The two-storey building, which sits at Balclutha town centre’s northern entrance, also contains co-working spaces, a theatre, a cinema, an iSite, leased retail space and a commercial community kitchen.
Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan said the project had been made possible only by timely funding of $7.4m from the then Provincial Growth Fund, now Kanoa, after the project was first conceived in 2016.
The final, $24.8m cost would be split about 40:60 between ratepayers and external funders, he said.
Some elements of the construction remained to be completed, including landscaping work.
‘‘This is a beautiful, transformative day for Clutha, and this is a project that breaks the decline of a generation. It’s a testament to the skill, tenacity and guts of the community-led committee that persisted through many challenges to deliver this amazing building for today’s residents, and for future generations.’’