Topic: Agrodome

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Opened 1972.

 Godfrey Bowen was the Chairmen of Directors of the developing company "Expo Promotions Ltd." set up in 1970. Godfrey was however planning for a national agriculture centre in New Zealand well before this, finding the site took five years of travelling New Zealand end to end. The Managing Director of "Expo Promotions Ltd." was a Mr G. A. Harford.

The Agrodome was built at Riverdale Park, in 1971-72, which is owned by the Rotorua A & P Association. A 100 acre valley planted with trees and has a natural trout stream (Ngongotaha Stream) flowing through it. At this time Godfrey was also a Field Director for the NZ Wool Board until 1983, and a well known champion shearer along with his brothers Ivan & Ken Bowen.

The Agrodome received a $40,000 loan from the Tourist Facilities Development Fund in December 1971, built of New Zealand timbers, the dome will stand without support using laminated timber beams. The centre was scheduled to open on February 18th, 1972.  It was officialy opened by Sir Keith Holyoake in April 1972.  

On 6 May 1980 the Agrodome was burned to the ground, cause unknown, but the show still went on that day in an older shed which was the original display area before the Agrodome was built. While the rebuild took shape the show was transferred to the old, and adapted, Ritz Hall in Amohau Street.  Godfrey & George were joined by Ces Hilton at this time who helped them to produce a model of what they had in mind. Lockwood Buildings Ltd. then were given the contract to build the new Agrodome.

The new Agrodome was officialy opened by the then Prime Minister, Mr R. Muldoon on the 22 November 1980. The new auditorium is almost a miniature replica of the General Assembly Forum, with seating for 420 people  with listening in provisions, with commentaries available in Japanese, German, French and Spanish. The new Agrodome included improved facilities to ensure that all who came thoroughly enjoyed their visit. The Farmhouse Tearoom was also now in operation adjacent to the Agrodome.

In 1993 Marine Helicopters were providing tourists with flights from the Agrodome.

In July 1996 a new Agrodome was opened in Tokyo, Japan. Built by Lockwood.

In 1998 further tourist attractions were added to the Agrodome Experience, 'Agroventres'. Which has the Agrojet, a fast jet boat ride round a specially built water course ; The Swoop ; The Shweeb ; Freefall xtreme and Rotorua Bungy all on the other side of the main highway from the Agrodome.

Source : Daily Post, 23 November 1971 p1, 22 December 1971 p1, 3 March 1972 in a 16 page Supplement devoted to the Agrodome, 6 May 1980 p1 and 22 November 1980.  Don Stafford Files : Tourism [1981]The Agrodome, 2013..

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