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New hotel, theatre package plan will boost growth, tourism

By: Gurbir Singh

The much-awaited government investment support for a world-class, 1300-seat new Waikato Regional Theatre project has finally come through.

Principal approval of $12 million funding from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund for this $73.9 million project was announced by Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern during a visit to Hamilton this morning. Momentum Waikato, as a trust, is managing the $73.9 million funding and coordinating the project.

Partner funding for this project has come from Hamilton City Council, Waikato Regional Council, Lotteries NZ, Trust Waikato and private donors.

Theatre drawing
Conceptual drawing of theatre complex (Courtesy: Momentum Waikato)

The proposed 5,395m2 theatre site is situated behind the former Hamilton Hotel overlooking Waikato River in the South end of Victoria Street, between Sapper Moore-Jones Place and Embassy Park.

“The Government is making good progress on strengthening regional economies through building new infrastructure that boosts regional wellbeing,” Jacinda Ardern said while making the announcement.

“Like many locals I have great memories of performances at the Founders Theatre. While it’s sad to have lost this venue, it’s fantastic to see a new plan developed.”

“The theatre will also be a base for Wintec’s performing arts degree, giving students on local training courses a great venue to learn in, Jacinda Ardern said.  

PM Jacinda Arden
PM Jacinda Ardern (Photo: NewsViews)

This theatre investment has already triggered a private project– the $32 million Victoria Property Hotel that will be built on the actual site of the old Hamilton Hotel.

“This is an exciting package for the region that will encourage tourism and ensure locals can enjoy the benefits of both home-grown and international cultural performances,” the prime minister said.

Labour MP Jamie Strange, who has been working closely with Momentum Waikato, Te Waka and councils to get this PGF investment, was excited with the funding success.

“I’m excited to see government investment in this important regional project. The Provincial Growth Fund pitch has been a team effort… Kelvyn Eglinton, (Chief Executive, Momentum Waikato) deserves special praise for his strong advocacy,” he told NewsViews.

PM with mayor and others
PM with Jamie Strange(L), Martin Gallagher & Mayor Southgate

“The Waikato Regional Theatre is part of our region coming of age. We are experiencing significant economic growth, and the theatre will play a key role in this.

“The Waikato region is increasing its tourism offering, and this project is another key piece in that puzzle. I expect it will also encourage more hotels to open in the CBD,” Jamie Strange said.

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate  says today’s announcement of the Government’s support for the Waikato Regional Theatre project illustrates an “exciting era of partnership” for the city and wider region.

Hamilton City Council has contributed $25 million to this project and an annual commitment of its maintenance.

Mayor Southgate says the new theatre will create a central city cultural hub that would stimulate other projects and add greater vibrancy to the city. 

Both the theatre and hotel construction projects in total will result in 300 jobs, and eventually give a boost to tourism.

Construction of the theatre is expected to begin in early 2020 and take two years to complete.