Key progress on Sir Howard Morrison Centre project

Thursday 10, September 2020 | News |

Significant progress has been made on the project to strengthen and redevelop the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, with design work now complete and construction poised to start pending Council approval.

The finalised design includes an extended Civic Theatre seating up to 1,000 people, a flexible black box theatre seating up to 300 people, a warm and welcoming foyer, a new café and bar area, and multi-purpose studios for workshops, rehearsals and recording.  Acoustics, air conditioning systems and theatre services will all be upgraded, the number of toilets will be increased and accessibility enhanced.

The Centre will once again showcase local talent, and will have the ability to attract larger scale touring shows that previously bypassed Rotorua and the Bay of Plenty region.  Once complete the Sir Howard Morrison Centre will be transformed into a regionally significant, fit-for purpose performing arts facility, and one that our community can be proud of.

Rotorua Lakes Council Group Operations Manager, Jocelyn Mikaere, says the potential for this significant community asset is huge.

“This regionally significant asset will be the only 1,000 seat theatre in the Central North Island.  We are envisaging a future where the performing arts sector can grow and thrive even more here in Rotorua drawing people from near and far, nationally and eventually internationally to Rotorua.  We have a performance ready community full of talented and amazingly gifted people both young and old who have grown up performing.  There is a real opportunity to grow and support a major new industry within Rotorua which will create real economic growth. With the gorgeous geography in our district it is no surprise that we have so many production companies looking to bring their business into the district.”

Over the last few months, in addition to readying the building for construction, the project team has been working to incorporate cultural stories into the design. These cultural integrations, fully supported by Ngāti Whakaue with the introduction of Henriata Nicholas to the design team, have resulted in a stunning new exterior and entrance foyer design sitting elegantly within the overall heritage features, creating warmth, light and a sense of arrival to welcome visitors. 

Artists impression of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre foyer

“I am honoured to be a part of the leadership team that is spear-heading the project,” says Rotorua Lakes Council Performing Arts Director Cian Elyse White.

“It has been a privilege to work with the Morrison whānau, Ngāti Whakaue, Te Arawa and community stakeholders to invest in this fantastic legacy project. I am extremely excited to get underway,” she says.

The detailed design phase is now complete, amended resource consent approved, and the building consent application has been granted.

Pending approval of the construction contract, which will be presented to Council on 24 September, the main construction phase will commence next month.

A presentation will be given by Performing Arts Director Cian Elyse White and Arts & Culture Manager Stewart Brown on Tuesday 15 September at 12noon, at the Rotorua Library, Te Aka Mauri, to update our stakeholders and wider community on the project progress and current status.

This project is generously supported by:

  • NZ Lotteries
  • Sir Owen Glenn
  • Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust
  • New Zealand Community Trust
  • Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust
  • Ngāti Whakaue Education Endowment Trust
  • One Foundation