Sterile, underwhelming, and not overly exciting were words used to describe a Hawke's Bay Opera House report presented to Hastings District Council yesterday afternoon.

It provided council with an update on initial planning for the next phase of the Hawke's Bay Opera House Seismic Strengthening project. A funding plan had not yet been developed, and only initial discussions with funding specialists had occurred to date.

Chief executive Ross McLeod said this report to address project delivery and strengthening was always going to come back to council first, with another to council in late July. Councillor Wayne Bradshaw said: "I know things need to happen first but drifting out to the end of July, I'm scared something else is going to step in the way, and so as far as the public are concerned we're actually not getting on and doing what they've asked for.

"I'm underwhelmed by this, it's pretty sterile and I think we could do a hell of a lot better in getting our vision together."


Mayor Lawrence Yule said council was able apply for new government funds, available after the scope of the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund was altered to include performing arts.

Council had put in an expression of interest for these funds, Mr Yule said, but there were other steps which needed to be taken. "I don't think you can reasonably expect us to go any faster or you will compromise our ability to access that government money," he said.

Council had put up the balance of the construction, time frame, design, and early contractual engagement, to try and significantly reduce costs, he said, and in July would have a funding strategy which partnered with that.

Community fundraising had not been organised, and councillor Sandra Hazlehurst said: "It's up to us to capture the community group while we go along, not waiting for the bigger pool and the funding proposals because [the community is] willing to help."