Canterbury students officially open new home and theatre

01 August 2019

After two years of construction, the new University of Canterbury Students’ Association (UCSA) building Haere-roa, and its Ngaio Marsh Theatre, will be officially opened on Friday 2 August.

  • Haere-roa_NWS

    Haere-roa is a vibrant hub of student services, social spaces, bars The Foundry and Bentley’s Lounge, an outdoor amphitheatre, and performance venues.

Foundry

After two years of construction, the new University of Canterbury Students’ Association (UCSA) building Haere-roa, and its Ngaio Marsh Theatre, will be officially opened on Friday 2 August.

Haere-roa is a vibrant hub of student services, social spaces, bars The Foundry and Bentley’s Lounge, an outdoor amphitheatre, and performance venues.

Its official opening marks an exciting milestone for the UCSA, which has been without a permanent home since the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. It also marks the official return of the Ngaio Marsh Theatre, a space named after New Zealand novelist, playwright and director Dame Ngaio Marsh, a famous UC alumna.

The new Ngaio Marsh Theatre replaces its 1960s predecessor in the old UCSA building. Its closure in 2011 left a significant gap in New Zealand’s performing arts scene.

UCSA President Sam Brosnahan says the organisation was eager to bring the theatre back and continue Dame Ngaio’s legacy. The new space includes modern retractable seating, an orchestra pit and impressive audio-visual technology.

During the opening event, guests will be invited into the new theatre for a series of performances by artistic and cultural groups, including a student club performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream. The choice of play is a reference to an earlier performance by Kiwi actor Sam Neil, a UC alumnus and honorary doctorate who starred in a 1969 production of the play directed by Dame Ngaio in the original UCSA theatre.

Brosnahan says Haere-roa and the Ngaio Marsh Theatre will have wide appeal.

“We’re really stoked to welcome people inside, and to see the building full of life. While we were sad to see the old UCSA building go, we had an opportunity to build something amazing in its place for future generations. This new building is a fantastic investment in UC students, but it’s also a great space for the community and for theatre-lovers”.

Guests at the opening ceremony, including donors and community figures, will experience a mihi whakatau and blessing; UCSA CEO Dave Hawkey will be MC, and speakers will include former UCSA president the Hon David Caygill, UC Chancellor Sue McCormack, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and current UCSA President Sam Brosnahan.

On Saturday 3 August, members of the public will get an opportunity to explore the new building when Haere-roa hosts a Community Open Day, 10am–2pm.

About Haere-roa

  • The building’s name, Haere-roa, translates to the longest stream or the long wanderer. It recognises the UCSA building as a space that hosts and welcomes people. The name has been gifted to the UCSA by mana whenua, Ngāi Tūāhuriri, and is linked to the Ōtākaro Avon River, which flows past the building.
  • The new Ngaio Marsh Theatre is designed to be a flexible space with retractable seating for 327 and standing room for 1,000.
  • More than 16,000 University of Canterbury students will have use of the building, including the UCSA’s 160 affiliated student clubs and societies which will use the space for meetings and events.
  • Haere-roa was jointly funded by an insurance claim and investment from University of Canterbury and the UCSA. The UCSA is fundraising to raise $5 million.

Fundraising for the Ngaio Marsh Theatre: Save me a seat

The UCSA is running a ‘Save me a seat’ campaign to help fundraise for their new building. Donations of $500 are recognised with a named plaque on the back of one of the Ngaio Marsh Theatre’s seats. Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel is one of those who has donated to the cause. For more information: ucsa.org.nz/save-me-a-seat

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