Brief CHB Municipal Theatre History
The CHB Municipal Theatre is an historic and iconic community building located in the heart of Waipawa. It has been the place of community gatherings, celebrations, performing arts and education for many years.
In 1907 one of the first duties of the new Borough Council was to decided on an offer made to the old Town Board by the Trustees of the Loyal Abbotsford Lodge to purchase their Oddfellows Hall and property in Kenilworth Street. This offer had been accepted but owing to the dissolution of the Board and the transaction had not been completed. The new Council resolved to purchase section and buildings.
In December of that year it was resolved that a poll of ratepayers be taken on the question to raise a special loan for rebuilding a portion of the Town Hall, adding a public library and Borough Council offices and chamber to the building. This was done and in January 1909 the Mayor arranged with W A Chambers of Waipukurau to a ground plan of proposed additions to the Hall. In April tenders were called for the rebuilding; five received with William Robertshaw's tender being the lowest at 1997.00 pounds. All the timber used in the rebuilding project was milled at Carson's Mill in the Wakararas. Included in the timber was 1000 super feet of heart Matai tongue and grove flooring. It is also re-called that the principal rafters were assembled one at a time on the ground then hoisted into position with the aid of a pole and a horse named Topsy.
The Municipal Theatre was opened in May 1910. No major work had been done on the building, except maintenance until 1956 when repiling and some interior alterations were carried out. Then in 1984 a most extensive refurbishing programme was instigated by the Council bringing the Town Hall back to its former splendour.
In 2010, the commemoration of 100 years of cultural and performing arts in the theatre was celebrated. This anniversary prompted the community and Council to assess the future of this facility. An opportunity arose from these celebrations to refurbish and restore a much loved and well used community facility.
The vision was to provide a refurbished Municipal Theatre for the residents of Central Hawke's Bay. This has been achieved by providing a refurbished multipurpose community facility for performance, teaching, promoting and nurturing the arts, meetings, conferences and weddings, while maintaining the historical character of the theatre.
Both the wrought iron balustrade and the original entrance with it interior timber largely intact are unique features of our Theatre that have been restored. The refurbishment has kept faith with the integrity of the building, which will allow continued used by the community for theatre shows and flat floor events now and for future generations to enjoy.
In refurbishing the Theatre, the CHB Council recognized the heritage of the district by returning the building to its former glory, and once again providing the community with a place of celebration for the arts, culture and heritage.
The total refurbishment project included renovation of interior and exterior walls, a new main stage, relocation of the Concert Chamber stage to beside the main stage, an increase and upgrade of toilet facilities, new dressing rooms, a new stage dock, a new kitchen, reinstatement of the original main entry foyer and the creation of a new facade at the front of the building.
The theatre was re-opened as the Central Hawke's Bay Municipal Theatre on 6 October 2012 by the Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage,
Hon. Christopher Finlayson.