RLC Vision to Action

Rotorua Lakes Council’s Vision 2030 – The Rotorua Way is guiding the development of a range of key projects and programmes to enhance our district’s strengths as we work with our community and partners to achieve a positive future.

Reviving our facilities

The strengthening, restoration and redevelopment of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre is a key element of Rotorua Lakes Council’s Vision 2030 and the Rotorua Way.

As well as the Sir Howard Morrison Centre, a number of projects to restore, rejuvenate and improve other key facilities around our district are also underway. These include Rotorua Museum and the Aquatic Centre.

Closure of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, for earthquake strengthening, provided an opportunity to look at the future offering of the facility.  Longer term use of the building has been discussed since 2015 when community engagement considered improvements to revitalise and increase use of the facility.

Foyer, Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre
Foyer, Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre

Challenges

A seismic assessment of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre rated the building at 25% of New Building Standard (NBS). Ratings below 34% NBS are considered earthquake prone and the centre was closed to the public on 5 November 2017.

The Civic Theatre, Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre
The Civic Theatre, Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre

Prior to closure, the facility was tired and arguably no longer fit for purpose. It also lacked a strong community connection. It had already been identified that in order to accommodate today’s performing arts needs, and the expectations of future audiences, the centre needed extensive renovation.

Opportunities

The closure of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre provided an opportunity to redevelop the building, alongside the seismic improvement, to become an outstanding centre for performing arts in Rotorua and the wider region.

As part of this redevelopment, the brief to architects also required the design to integrate cultural expression reflective of Te Arawa, and in particular Ngāti Whakaue as tangata whenua, ensuring that when it reopens, the centre will be uniquely of its place in Rotorua.

The business case, to determine the best outcomes for the centre and our community, identified a number of opportunities:

  • To configure spaces to enable flexibility of layout and a wide range of performance types
  • To upgrade the standard of facilities and services so the centre is well placed for the future
  • To ensure the centre is functional and practical for performing arts
  • To improve the aesthetics and ambience
  • To ensure the venue is accessible for use by community groups
  • To upgrade the venue to comply with current legislation, including mobility access

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