Who we are

Stardome and its team have been sharing a love of space from its premises in Auckland’s One Tree Hill Domain since 1967.  A place of exploration, research and sharing of knowledge Stardome has been regularly open for public viewing evenings and daytime visits for school trips ever since. If you went to school in Auckland or the surrounding area you probably remember your first trip to Stardome as a kid.  In 1997, NZ’s first and still largest Planetarium theatre was constructed and opened on the site.


Stardome and its team have been sharing a love of space from its premises in Auckland’s One Tree Hill Domain since 1967.

A place of exploration, research and sharing of knowledge the Observatory has been regularly open for public viewing evenings and daytime visits for school trips ever since. If you went to school in Auckland or the surrounding area you probably remember your first trip to Stardome as a kid.

In 1997, as a result of an ambitious vision from the Observatory Trustees and Management, following extensive public and private fundraising and with assistance from Auckland Council, NZ’s first Planetarium theatre was constructed and opened on the site, and the Auckland Observatory was renamed Stardome Observatory and Planetarium. Since this day it has remained a facility for people of all ages and interests to enjoy.

How did it all start?

Stardome’s rich history started in 1948, when the Auckland Astronomical Society began fundraising for a public observatory in Auckland. By 1956 they had significant funds, including a substantial bequest from Mrs Edith Winstone Blackwell for the purchase of a telescope for public use. The Society formed the Auckland Observatory and Planetarium Trust Board to build on these initial funds and provide for the construction and management of a new observatory.

In 1960 One Tree Hill Borough Council provided a 21-year lease, which has been subsequently extended, for a site in One Tree Hill Domain which is where the Observatory and Planetarium operates from today. In March 1967 the Observatory opened without a Planetarium, as at this stage the Auckland Museum was operating a Planetarium which had been donated by the Farmers Trading Company in 1958.

The Planetarium at the Museum closed in 1989, allowing the Observatory the opportunity to build a replacement Planetarium. Fundraising was undertaken with a clear vision to provide the country with the best facility possible.

Nearly $3 million was raised for the project, with major funding coming from the Lotteries Commission, the ASB Community Trust and a loan from Auckland City Council; many donations were also received from the public of Auckland. The new planetarium and associated facilities opened in February 1997 and remains the largest and most advanced in New Zealand.

The Zeiss star projector and panorama slide projectors were replaced in 2008 with a fully digitised system from Evans & Sutherland. The major fundraising effort also included upgrades and refurbishement of the seating and projection screen in the Planetarium. Stardome now provides the Auckland region and New Zealand with leading-edge planetarium technology coupled with expert personalised assistance from our team of astronomy educators and presenters.

In 2010 Stardome Trustees and Management embarked on an upgrade inside its premises building interactive displays and exhibits housing materials from space and The new foyer displays and exhibits were opened in September 2010 and add another dimension to our visitor experience.

Our mission is to teach and promote the science of astronomy and the Stardome is able to offer visitors the experience of learning together with entertainment in a planetarium environment. Visitors are also able to view the night sky through smaller telescopes guided by knowledgeable volunteers.

The Stardome experience takes an immersive simulated environment and turns it into reality. This is a unique combination, and Auckland is one of the few cities worldwide that are able to offer both methods in one facility.


Strategic Plan










Stardome Observatory and Planetarium is grateful for the significant support it receives from the ratepayers of the Auckland region and Auckland Council, through the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board.

We also thank the following organisations and individuals for their generous contribution to Stardome:

Asia New Zealand Foundation
Auckland Astronomical Society
Century Foundation Ltd
Chisholm Whitney Family Charitable Trust
Clement T Bostock
Clubsports Foundation
Edith Winstone Blackwell Foundation
Foundation North
Mt Wellington Trust
New Zealand Lottery Grants board
Oxford Sports Trust
Pub Charity
Scottwood Trust
Sir John Logan Campbell Residuary Estate
Sir Po-Shing Woo
Sky City Auckland Community Trust
The Four Winds Foundation
The Lion Foundation
The Southern Trust
The Trusts Charitable Foundation


Stardome’s vision, mission and management is guided by the Auckland Observatory and Planetarium trust board.


Geoff Mason has a degree in chemical and materials engineering with a graduate diploma in business management and is a member of the Institute of Directors Geoff has 31 years experience since graduation including one and half years with Solid Energy and five years with Thames Water Asia/Pacific Pty Ltd in Melbourne Australia. During that time, he was responsible for managing the engineering procurement and construction of water and wastewater projects in Australia and Asia. He worked at North Shore City Council for nine years and was General Manager of Water Services responsible for 220 staff.

TRUSTEE – Bill Thomas

MSc, BSc (Hons)

Mr Thomas is an IT professional working in the industry for 36 years in various roles in New Zealand and England, most recently as a network consultant. Originally based in Wellington, Bill has lived on Auckland’s North Shore since 1992. Bill joined the Auckland Astronomical Society, the largest in New Zealand in the year 2000 and was elected to the role of President in 2014. Bill has been keenly interested in astronomy since a young age and wrote his master’s thesis on the Sun’s magnetic cycle. Bill is also a Stardome volunteer, one of those that operate the Edith Winstone Blackwell Zeiss telescope for public viewing sessions.

TRUSTEE – Richard Northey

MA(Hons), BSc, ONZM

Richard Northey is an elected Auckland Councillor who has chaired its Economic Development Committee, its Audit and Risk Committee and now its Accountability and Performance Committee. He joined the Auckland Astronomical Society at age 9 and won its O’Sullivan Prize at 14. His BSc is in Chemistry and Physics and his MA in Political Studies. Richard was an Auckland University Lecturer in Political Studies and then in Planning and was an Auckland MP for nine years during which time he chaired the Justice and Law Reform; Electoral Law; Education and Science; and Regulations Review Select Committees. Richard chairs the Auckland/Northland Zone of Local Government New Zealand, the Auckland District Council of Social Services and Auckland Community Housing Trust.

TRUSTEE – Andrew Buckingham

Treasurer AAS

Mr Buckingham has a passionate interest in public astronomy. He was a chief presenter and then operations, finance and retail manager at Stardome Observatory for 11 years from the opening of the planetarium in 1997. Prior to this, he was a volunteer and public night co-ordinator. He was editor and producer of the NZ Astronomical Yearbook for the 2000-2005 editions and remains a contributor while currently managing Astronomy NZ Ltd supplying telescopes to the NZ market. He is a member and Treasurer of the Auckland Astronomical Society, the International Planetarium Society and the Southeastern Planetarium Association. Previously he was Operations Manager for Jon Buckingham Ltd, an electrical engineering and manufacturing company and led their copy-type division with desktop publishing and office services.

TRUSTEE – Conor Roberts

Conor Roberts has a background in public affairs and communications in both the public and private sectors. He is currently Head of Public Affairs at Spark New Zealand after working for Todd Property Group. Prior to that, Conor served as Chief Political Advisor and Campaign Manager for the Mayor of Auckland during the establishment years of the Auckland Council. He has strong relationships across central and local government, industry and community groups and with the media and has experience in using innovative communications to promote and support the activities of the entities he is involved with.

TRUSTEE – Diana Patchett

Diana Patchett brings to the board extensive experience as an educator and has held senior roles at schools in Australia and New Zealand. Since 2013 she has been Principal of Kristin Junior School. She has a Masters of Educational Studies, University of Queensland (2010), a Post Graduate Diploma of Education, University of New England (1996) and a Bachelor of Science (Cell Biology, Zoology), University of British Columbia (1987). Diana has had numerous professional works published internationally and delivered conference presentations on science and values education. Diana’s research and practice in education have been recognised with a number of national awards, fellowships and grants.

TRUSTEE – Carol Gernhoefer

Carol is a Chartered Accountant with international experience working for large firms in New Zealand, the UK, and Japan. At governance level, she has held Board positions for not-for-profit organisations including Independent Living Service and the Auckland War Memorial Museum. She has over twenty years of financial management, valuation, auditing, commercial accounting and governance experience. She is also the creator of the ‘Auckland for Kids’ website and enjoys spending time with her young family, the arts, and travelling.

TRUSTEE – Richard Sorrenson

Richard Sorrenson has long had an interest in the history of astronomy and obtained his PhD in the history of science from Princeton University. He is the author of Perfect Mechanics: Instrument Makers at the Royal Society of London in the Eighteenth Century (Docent Press, Boston Mass., 2013) and manages the University of Auckland Foundation and its endowment fund.

TRUSTEE – Wendy Youens

Wendy is a
media accessibility professional with a decade of experience in the New Zealand
media industry. Wendy is  Chief Executive
of Able, a not-for-profit organisation providing captioning and audio
description services to New Zealand broadcasters. Previously Wendy was TVNZ’s
Access Services manager, and from late 2013, when Able launched as an
independent organisation, Wendy has led the team to increase accessibility on
New Zealand screens, and works closely with government, broadcasters and sector
organisations to grow media accessibility. Wendy is a
keen tramper and kayaker and is passionate about helping others to enjoy the
great outdoors. In her spare time, Wendy volunteers with an organisation that
helps equip young people with outdoors skills. 


Mr Murphy has been the Board Secretary since 1991. He was most recently employed as a Telecommunications Network Designer with Visionstream’s Ultra Fast Broadband team. Prior to this he served 10 years as an Engineering Consultant with Kordia and 26 years with the Airways Corporation of New Zealand and has a professional background in communications/broadcast facilities management and design and project management.



Support Stardome

Stardome Observatory & Planetarium is an essential educational facility for Auckland and the wider New Zealand Community. We are a registered charitable trust governed by The Auckland Observatory and Planetarium Trust Board. Our mission is to share knowledge of space in ways that inspire, challenge and educate. We can’t do it alone though and the help of generous donations from individuals and organisations are necessary to keep us doing what we do best.

If you would like to make a donation or bequest to Stardome please fill out this form here and email to accounts@stardome.org.nz or post to PO Box 24180, Royal Oak, Auckland 1345. We’d love to hear the details about your donation, how the funds were raised, who was involved, etc. Please email this information to our Marketing Team – events@stardome.org.nz

Stardome is unique, being the only facility in the upper North Island with a publicly accessible astronomical observatory co-located with a planetarium, enabling our visitors to learn about Space and the Universe in the 360 degree planetarium theatre and during the evening observe stars and constellations through a range of telescopes.

Well over half of our visitors are children, many of whom come to us as part of the Stardome education programme. We work with teachers to provide educational content relevant to the curriculum at all levels and make science and astronomy exciting and interactive.

If you prefer, our popular Adopt a Star programme is another way that we raise valuable funds for the Stardome. For a $60 donation, you will receive an adoption certificate for a unique star and a ticket to one of our shows. These make a great birthday, Christmas or anniversary present for someone special, whilst supporting the Stardome to continue our valuable work. Click here and select ‘Adopt a Star’ for details.

We thank you for your generous support


Sponsoring Stardome

You can support Stardome and become one of our recognised sponsors through a variety of opportunities. Here are just some of the many ways you can be involved:

  • Sponsor an evening or weekend daytime show and have sponsorship naming rights to that show.
  • Sponsor one our Special Tuesday night shows and have sponsorship naming rights to that show plus the chance to display your products and services to the audience of that show.
  • Sponsor the purchase of new telescopes for our courtyard telescope viewing and have your organisation recognised on our promotional collateral and on our website.
  • Sponsor the purchase of educational equipment for the Stardome’s educational or school holiday programmes and we will incorporate your organisation’s sponsorship details in our promotional collateral and on our website.
  • Sponsor our Annual New Zealand Astronomical Yearbook and get a free advertisement in this publication.
  • Sponsor our widely distributed marketing and promotional collateral and we will include your company details in our collateral.

Depending on the size and scope of your contribution, we may be able to provide your organisation with the opportunity to visit the Stardome and watch a planetarium show as a thank you for this support. You could use this as a special gift for your customers or to reward your staff.

To talk to us about becoming a Stardome sponsor and partnering with us to deliver educational and entertaining shows to the public, please contact our Marketing Team – events@stardome.org.nz We would love to hear from you!

Annual Reports

    Annual Report_Cover 2012_lo-res        Annual-Report-2013_cover_for-web        Stardome-Annual-Report-2014_COVER        Stardome-Annual-Report-2015_FINAL