Opening with the cutting of the ribbon by then Arts Culture and Heritage Associate Minister Grant Robertson on February 22 last year, multimillion-dollar performing arts centre Te Raukura ki Kāpiti opened with great fanfare.
For newly appointed centre manager Sonia Hardie it was supposed to be an exciting year of putting the feelers out and testing the waters.
"I was expecting a year of feelers out and trials, learning a lot more about our community, who they are, what they want and what they want to see, attend and experience," she said.
"I was looking forward to having time with the new facility, giving it a chance to settle, find all the quirks, iron out all the creases and on an operational level get things running quite smoothly.
"That was the dream really, that was the goal for the year."
But Covid-19 meant a stack of unexpected challenges for Sonia, the centre and the whole performing arts community.
"We opened in February, closed in March and suddenly everything came to a stop.
"Instead of doing the job of managing a venue and getting my head around that, the job became about the virus and how you operate in an industry that brings people together to experience something collectively.
"Covid-19 triple-upped the workload as I had to work out if we could run events while communicating with all the clients who had booked, constantly rebooking, cancelling, and refunding in this weird new uncharted, unknown territory.
"It was constant new learning through online seminars with likeminded people in the events and arts industry, learning what others were doing and how they were responding along with writing health and safety documents."
But it was not all negative news for the Sonia and Te Raukura.
"The centre was new and there were already a lot of unknowns around how it was going to be – we're a school, a community facility and a venue for hire for the community, New Zealand arts industry and international arts industry along with having a resident church hire on Sundays.
"That's a lot to navigate and to learn to juggle, plus Covid-19.
"But that new learning is not going to go away.
"There were huge positives last year, we had incredible events starting with opening season."
The Royal New Zealand Ballet was the first professional company to perform at the centre with Tutus on Tour which sold out in three weeks, a second show was added.
This year the RNZB announced two shows from the get go and have already added a third show.
"The fact that there's huge growth with a company like the RNZB who came through in our first year and have added shows their second year is incredible, it's hugely positive.
"There was a bigger response from our community than I was expecting.
"It's validation that the right decision was made, that this centre is important and a great asset to the community.
"They're here, they're attending, and so many shows have sold out."
The response to locally produced shows has also been a highlight for Sonia.
Shona Jaunas from Paekākāriki produced Small Town, a musical based on the songs of Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground which used the Sir Jon Trimmer Theatre with audience members scattered throughout the theatre, showcasing how the space can be used in different innovative ways.
Kāpiti Concert Orchestra's Music for a New World was also hugely popular concert, selling out the Coastlands Theatre along with Kāpiti College's production Chicago which was also a sell out.
"This really shows that the Kāpiti community value the locally produced events as well as the national productions which come through here.
"There's a good range of things on and the community are interested."
With the RNZB, NZSO, Nathan Wallis, Kāpiti Concert Orchestra, Coastal Blues, Coasters performance of Mary Poppins, and many more local and national shows set for this year, Sonia is looking forward to the centre hosting many more diverse events.
"After adapting to Covid-19 in our first year of operation last year, this year we are looking forward to finding a good rhythm and continuing to make the venue accessible for everyone in the community."
For information on events at Te Raukura, check out their monthly ad in the Kāpiti News or visit www.teraukura.nz/whats-on.