Ceremony marks SHMPAC donation

Tuesday 30, January 2018 | News |

A ceremony marking a generous donation of $3 million from philanthropist Sir Owen Glenn toward the proposed upgrade of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre was held at Te Papaiouru Marae today [Tuesday 30 January].

Sir Owen made the announcement earlier this month. 

The building was closed in November, until further notice, following a detailed seismic assessment that found it was below required standards.

Sir Owen was accompanied on to the marae today by a local contingent which included te rōpū haka (cultural group) Ngā Uri o te Whanoa/ Ngararanui and Area Commander for the police in Rotorua, Anaru Pewhairangi. Members of the Morrison whānau were also at the ceremony, which was held to thank Sir Owen for his contribution to the proposed upgrade of the centre.

After the pōhiri proceedings, Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick expressed her sincere gratitude to Sir Owen on behalf of the district and in remembrance of his dear friend, the late Sir Howard Morrison.

She recalled a close friendship between the pair saying “old men can have a dream, but young men have visions.”

She said she was in awe of Sir Owen’s donation. 

“We were excited by your contribution which gives us hope.  Thank you.”

Mrs Chadwick said she was devastated by the closure of the performing arts centre but  the contributions of Sir Owen and the Rotorua Trust, which has agreement in principle to contribute $1.5million, were significant.

She said their generosity would inspire others to contribute and would help Rotorua Lakes Council progress with improving the building.

Sir Owen spoke fondly of  Sir Howard and his whānau.

“I miss him greatly.  I’m proud to be part of any legacy for him.”

He reminisced about a talented and witty man.

Sir Owen offered a suggestion for the re-opening of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.

“One request [for opening night] is to play ‘How great thou art’ – that would be [wonderful],” he said.

Detailed design for earthquake strengthening and upgrading of the centre is underway and will enable final costings to be ascertained so decisions can be made on how to proceed.

The upgrade of the centre is dependent on external funding.  Early indications of interest to contribution have come from several potential funders offering to support the upgrade work. 

Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre timeline

An upgrade of the performing arts centre was proposed in 2014 and council undertook engagement and consultation with the local performing arts community and sought input from the wider community.

It was subsequently identified that further work needed to be done to strengthen the business case for upgrading the centre and the 2017/18 Annual Plan allocated $1 million in this financial year to complete this work and potentially – depending on decision-making – start detailed design and construction.

The building was previously assessed as being an earthquake risk and a subsequent detailed seismic assessment found a number of areas fell below required standards, prompting its closure until strengthening is undertaken.

Work done on the facility in previous years was compliant but methodologies have changed and there are new building standards as a result of learnings from Christchurch.

Following elected members’ approval to proceed with preferred options for strengthening and upgrading the centre, expressions of interest for concept designs were sought with nine submissions received from local, national and international firms. These are now being reviewed and will be shortlisted to two to be considered by a steering group which will make a recommendation to Council, hopefully in April.

Detailed design will follow selection of a concept design and efforts to secure external funding options will be ongoing.