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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.
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
New Zealand's first women lawyer graduated from the University
of Otago in 1897 - Ethel Benjamin, from an orthodox Jewish
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
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
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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