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Dunedin - New Zealand's southern most city

Founded in mid-late 1800s on the back of a gold rush in the nearby Central Otago region, Dunedin rapidly grew to become New Zealand's largest city, attracting thousands of settlers.

Among those who settled in Dunedin was a group of Jews who built the first synagogue in 1863 designed by W. H. Sumner.

By 1875, a larger building was required and architect Louis Boldini won a major commission with his design for a new synagogue in Moray Place. The completed building, which cost £4,800, was consecrated on 28 August 1881.

Original synagogue
Dunedin synagogue today

Eventually,a falling population meant a smaller Jewish community, who shifted in the 1980s to a smaller shul. While small, the community is thriving in the world's southernmost synagogue.

Ariela Martin is a Jewish contact in Dunedin and is happy if people want to get in touch with her directly about Jewish life in Dunedin on (+64) 21 038 5311. She notes that "schools here are very good and affordable. For the equivalent of private education in Auckland at very exclusive schools, in Dunedin you can get into state integrated schools for a fraction of the price, $2,500 a year! For a school of this standard in Auckland, parents would be paying $25,000 a year."

She says that "although a small city, the university life helps make the city very vibrant culturally, so really the best of both worlds. All the conveniences of large city yet without the drawbacks. Affordability here is not just in relation to housing, everything is cheaper. After school activities for kids are cheaper. There are a lot of sponsored activities, example, music lessons for children $150 for the year! In Auckland it is $400 a term."

The main employer in Dunedin is the University of Otago, the oldest university in New Zealand. Established in 1869, the university spans a range of disciplines. The most well known school is the Medical School, which along with the University of Auckland, trains medical students across a range of subject areas (https://www.otago.ac.nz). New Zealand's first women lawyer graduated from the University of Otago in 1897 - Ethel Benjamin, from an orthodox Jewish family.

Dunedin also has a small but thriving information technology scene, supported by a program of rolling out Gigibit service to the city (http://www.gigcitydunedin.co.nz and https://www.odt.co.nz).

Under free trade agreements with Australia, firms in New Zealand are able to bid for Australian contracts. Recently a group of Dunedin engineering firms investigated bidding for part of Australia's naval ships refurbishment program - a multi-billion dollar and multi year contract that would require people with engineering skills, and more importantly defense engineering skills (https://www.odt.co.nz).

Located at the head of a large harbour, Dunedin's climate is coastal. It never gets very hot in summer, but it can snow in wintertime. Travel 2.5 hours inland to Queenstown, where the climate is more continental - hot in summer, cold with snow in winter.

There are a reasonable number of flights to Dunedin from Auckland and Wellington, while Christchurch, the South Island's largest city, is a 4.5 hour drive.

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