Waikato Regional Theatre is all go: Prime Minister Adern turns the first sod.

Bold Vision Brings Rewards

In October 2019, just after I was inaugurated as Mayor, I had the pleasure of standing alongside the Prime Minister and talking about why I wanted our city to be bold.

This week, I recalled that conversation when I attended the sod-turning for the Waikato Regional Theatre.

When it was first mooted, the Waikato Regional Theatre was an audacious goal.  Some said it wasn’t do-able.  They were wrong.

This week, alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Chair of the Waikato Regional Property Trust  Ross Hargood and Chair of Momentum Waikato Neil Richardson, I attended the  sod-turning for what will be a world-class performance space.

When I spoke at the sod-turning, I reflected that the Theatre has only become a reality because enough people in our wider community were bold enough to firstly advocate for it…. and secondly, bold enough to support it. 

And then central government backed that vision, with a $12 million investment, for which we are grateful.

I paid tribute to, and thanked those involved in that partnership…. Momentum Waikato, the private sector, philanthropists, other Waikato councils and central government and now, the Waikato Regional Property Trust.  It will be Trust which will manage the building of this Theatre.

I also acknowledged Kelvyn Eglinton, the Chief Executive of Momentum Waikato, for his commitment, his passion and his tenacity.

I’m proud to be part a Council that also supported this vision for our city.  Our Council has committed an investment of $25 million into this project. That is what this project is. It is a major investment in Hamilton and in the wider Waikato region.

Visitors will come to our theatre, of course – and that’s fantastic. I hope they will stay for the weekend (or longer) enjoy our hospitality and retail offerings and also venture further afield to the Mighty Waikato.  We have a huge domestic tourism offering right here and we should be doing all we can to support that.

But for the growing number of people who call Hamilton home – it’s more than that. 

The Waikato Regional Theatre is another building block in the complete rejuvenation of our central city.

In the last two weeks, our Council has invited private developers to work alongside us to further develop our beautiful Victoria on the River precinct.  Our Regional Theatre will be in good company, alongside a multi-storey space with retail, hospitality and commercial space, topped by great quality residential apartments overlooking the Waikato River. 

We’re completely rejuvenating Embassy Park, at the entrance to the Theatre. We’ll be temporarily relocating Riff-Raff, who rules Embassy Park, to the Waikato Museum.

And that’s fitting because the Museum and the Waikato River, are  integral to our central city vision. 

We have already put a fantastic new commercial jetty on the river, down by the museum.

A concept for a sportshub at the Ferrybank, close to the museum, is under development.

And we have lofty plans, alongside other partners, to build an iconic pedestrian and cycling bridge across our Awa, the Waikato River.

We’ve already passed the first hurdle  to securing money from the Government’s Infrastructure Acceleration Fund for investment in our central city.  That money, if received, will help us fund the infrastructure we need to build more inner city housing. 

For those who say these things are wildly aspirational, I say YES. They  are aspirational.

And I make no apology for that, and I make no apology for wanting the very best for our city.

The idea of a Waikato Regional Theatre was once considered bold and aspirational. 

This week I had the privilege of attending a wonderful sod-turning ceremony and seeing that bold and aspirational vision come to life. 


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