In 1981 it was proposed that part of CH’s income each year should be spent on buying contemporary works of art.

Not only were CH’s white concrete block walls crying out to be decorated, it was thought students should be exposed to the type of art they may not see in their own homes; the type of art that would be challenging and would invoke debate, discussion or reflection.

A sub-committee, led by Alex Baird, set about building up the collection over the next 22 years. There are now more than 100 works and the artists include Philippa Blair, Joanna, Braithwaite, Bill Hammond, Ralph Hotere, Richard Killeen, Don Peebles, Bill Sutton, Pat Hanly, Seraphine Pick, Gretchen Albrecht, Michael Smither, Terry Stringer and Jane Zusters.  

Alex Baird died suddenly in 2003 and the collection is now known as the ‘Alex Baird Collection of Contemporary Art’ in his memory.