21 May 2024

Heritage listing recognises Nan Tien Temple's cultural significance to NSW

| Jen White
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Aerial shot of Nan Tien Temple at Berkeley.

Berkeley’s Nan Tien Temple has been added to the NSW Heritage Register. Photo: zetter.

Nan Tien Temple has been officially recognised on the NSW Heritage Register as an exceptional example of Buddhist architecture and a significant cultural site.

The temple’s Reverend Miao You said it was an honour to be recognised by the NSW Heritage Council.

“Nan Tien aims to serve as an educational hub and provide spiritual sanctuary for people from all walks of life,” she said.

“Our inclusion on the State Heritage Register will ensure the preservation of our unique architecture, artistic culture, surrounding environment, and gardens so everyone may enjoy them for many years to come.”

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Nan Tien Temple joins other local sites on the register including Glenniffer Brae at Keiraville, the Regent Theatre in Wollongong, Bass Point Reserve at Shell Cove and the Kiama Post Office.

Heritage listing recognises and protects places and objects and provides guidelines on approvals needed to make any future alterations.

Built on 22 ha of land, Nan Tien is the largest Buddhist temple in NSW and an example of the Chinese Imperial Palace and T’ang Dynasty architectural styles.

Its features include two temple shrines, an eight-storey pagoda and expansive landscaped gardens designed for reflection and meditation.

The site was a former landfill site which Wollongong City Council donated for 100 years, with a nominal annual rental fee of $1.

Designed by Australian architects Jones Brewster Regan and predominantly constructed between 1992 and 1995, its 417-sqm Main Shrine is dedicated to the Five Directions, housing five three-metre Buddha statues encircled by 10,000 smaller Buddha statues within its walls.

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The Nan Tien Institute was launched in 2011 originally within the grounds of the temple complex and later moved to a new location directly opposite, across the M1 Princes Motorway. It was Australia’s first government accredited tertiary education provider based on Buddhist values.

The heritage listing recognises the temple as a place of worship and a spiritual home for Buddhist migrants and Australian-born Buddhists to connect and uphold their traditions and culture. It attracts 200,000 visitors each year.

NSW Heritage Minister Penny Sharpe said the Nan Tien Temple was one of a kind in NSW.

“This heritage listing recognises and celebrates not just the architectural values of this place, but also the important cultural and spiritual role the temple and shrine played for our booming Buddhist population in the 1970s,” she said.

“The addition of the Nan Tien Temple to the State Heritage Register is a celebration of our rich cultural tapestry.”

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