Key heritage treasure awarded

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Cameron Whyte


Cameron Whyte


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The newly refurbished Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre in Rotorua has been recognised for Merit in the Naylor Love Heritage & Adaptive Reuses Property Award at this year’s Property Council New Zealand Rider Levett Bucknall Property Industry Awards. 

The Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre (SHMPAC) is situated on 9,313 square metres of land gifted by Ngāti Whakaue in the heart of Rotorua.

The elegant venue is a category 1 building with historical significance combines Spanish Mission style architecture with contemporary Māori design.

It originally opened in 1940 and has been home to municipal offices, various public facilities, a convention centre, and a performing arts centre.

Restoration work began in 2020 to restore this key heritage treasure.

The design team took on a holistic approach, dovetailing structural strengthening, architecture, heritage, and bi–cultural involvement including artwork by Ngāti Whakaue artist and designer Henriata Nicholas.

Retention of the historical value of the building, keeping much of the original design and materials was important.

The build included the installation of a chain-driven orchestra lift platform, the first of its kind in New Zealand, as well as state-of-the-art sound and lighting.

Rider Levett Bucknall Director Cameron Whyte said,

The revitalisation was beautiful to watch. The upgrade highlights the building’s original heritage features, including a strong use of wood, and integrated, connecting spaces with uniquely Rotorua stories.

Hosted by Property Council New Zealand with the support of Principal Sponsor Rider Levett Bucknall, the Property Industry Awards is the most prestigious property awards programme in New Zealand, celebrating excellence in design and innovation in the built environment for over 20 years.

Rider Levett Bucknall in Auckland Managing Director Steve Gracey said, “It has been RLB’s great privilege to play a role honouring the extraordinary achievements of our industry’s true gamechangers. Congratulations to the 2023 winners for being part of a world-class showcase of purpose-driven spaces.”

Whakamihi to all the winners