Sold-out shows are already putting Te Raukura ki Kāpiti on the performing arts industry map.

To be opened on Saturday by Arts, Culture and Heritage associate minister Grant Robertson, Kāpiti's $12 million centre will provide a performance space for the community while also being a professional performance venue, bringing arts to the region.

Following a pōwhiri and ribbon cutting at 8.30am, Robertson will lead the public inside, where community and school acts will perform throughout the venue's multi-purpose spaces.

"This will be an important and special moment in a major project the community has waited many years to see," head of the fundraising committee and chair of the Kāpiti College board of trustees Cass Carter said.

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"As a staunch supporter of the arts and also finance minister, it is a great acknowledgement to have Mr Robertson open what will be an important regional asset."

Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan is also looking forward to this weekend's opening.

"Te Raukura's development has been a significant project with wide community involvement and council is pleased to have been able to support it by contributing $1.6 million to the construction."

Dancers testing out the mezzanine floor. Photo / Dick van den Oever
Dancers testing out the mezzanine floor. Photo / Dick van den Oever

Te Raukura manager Sonia Hardie has been working on a world-class opening season while programming a year's worth of events into the calendar.

"I'm really looking forward to the opening, but also looking forward to it being over so we can get on with it and start getting into the groove of it.

"Opening season is massive. We're really going to be putting the centre through its paces, operating it at full capacity."

The Royal New Zealand Ballet sold out their Tutus on Tour show after three weeks, adding a matinee performance which has sold out too.

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Hardie sees providing a balance between serving the community and being a professional venue as crucial to the success of the centre.

"There's been a really positive response from the community here.

"Bookings and enquiries from community groups are really good and we are trying to showcase the venues to the wider arts industry.

"We've been working hard at trying to spread out the school productions so we don't saturate the market and give everyone a fair chance to have a successful event.

The inside of the new arts centre. Photo / Rosalie Willis
The inside of the new arts centre. Photo / Rosalie Willis

"It's such a luxury to have a centre where you don't just have a theatre, you have a centre with other facilities such as music, dance and recording studios.

"When groups and industry professionals are booking a space I really encourage them to come in and talk to me so they can see the space and decide which one is going to be better suited for the feel they are trying to create.

"Using new venues can be challenging but this is really traditional in terms of what you're getting.

"Feedback from industry professionals who have walked through are saying the sound is really good, but we won't know until after the first performances.

"Wrapping up the opening season with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is going to be the big test."

With state-of-the-art technology, fly system, acoustics and lighting, the centre provides students with the opportunity to learn the ropes and leave school with industry level experience.

"The fly system is incredibly exciting. It's fully manual.

In the age of automation, having a manual fly system gives performers the ability to have musical licence, improvise and make changes while in the middle of a live performance.

"There's some really good opportunities coming up for students with some having already learnt how to use the fly system as well as playing around with the lighting and sound.

"There's been fantastic ownership of the space from the school. There's tech teams and students teams who are 110 per cent enthusiastic about what this space is giving them.

"They understand the opportunity they've been given and are all here being ushers and technicians on the open day."

The main entrance to Te Raukura. Photo / Rosalie Willis
The main entrance to Te Raukura. Photo / Rosalie Willis

Making the centre accessible for the community has been one of Hardie's biggest jobs.

Choosing Eventfinda as their ticket provider, the biggest draw card was cheap fees and an outlet at Coastlands information desk which allows people who don't want to purchase tickets online an easy way to buy tickets.

Keeping it local, food and beverage services will be run by Coastal Bar Services who run the Boundary Tap & Kitchen around the corner, leaving food to the professionals, enabling Hardie and her team to focus on the operation of the building.

The public are welcome to enjoy the festivities by gold coin koha and gain backstage access with guided tours through the venue's two theatres, green room, dance studio, recording studio and numerous practice spaces on Saturday.


Te Raukura ki Kāpiti quick facts:

• Kāpiti's newest performing arts hub is a state-of the-art venue that will help grow the performing arts culture in Kāpiti.

• Coastlands Theatre is the principal venue for events. It is a 331-seat proscenium arch theatre with a full counterweight flying system. It has a 9m x 12m stage, an orchestra pit below, a full lighting rig with LED and moving head fixtures plus professional sound system to meet the needs of any hirer.

• Sir Jon Trimmer Theatre is a versatile 'black box' theatre space. Accommodating up to 200 people is best suited to un-amplified spoken voice. Staging, flat-floor seating, lighting, sound and AV can be configured however the production requires making it a fully flexible contemporary space.

• The dance studio has a sprung, second-floor floor space of 13.5m x 10.2m, complete with surround sound system, mirror wall, full of natural light and views to Kāpiti Island.
Available to hire for dance works only, no exterior footwear nor heavy scenery items.

• The music room is generously sized at 13.5m x 10.2m and has choir risers capable of standing a choir of 80. Orchestra stands and foldable tables are also available.

• There are nine practice rooms available to hire. These have sound baffling to reduce exterior noise. There is also a sound recording studio.

• The centre is a partnership between Kāpiti College and the Kāpiti community. It is the first publicly owned specialist performance space on the Kāpiti Coast and seeks to meet the needs of young people, local performers and the arts-loving audience of the Kāpiti.