2016 marks 80 years of singing, dancing and carrying on for Tauranga's 16th Ave Theatre.

Formerly known as Tauranga Repertory, it's seen over a thousand local actors perform in hundreds of plays; from Shakespeare to Oscar Wilde.

It's also provided a place for migrants feeling isolated after settling in Tauranga, to meet people and settle into life in the Bay.

"It definitely is a good thing to integrate, to find like minded people," says member Sandra Saller.


Mrs Saller believes it helped her to find a place to feel at home.

Christine Giddens has been involved in the theatre for 45 years, and was in the same boat as Sandra when she first arrived in New Zealand.

"People that I was in my very first production with, I'm still friends with. And to me that's wonderful. Every time I'm in a production, I make new friends. The community, the spirit and the love of theatre is what keeps me coming back," she says.

It's the longest-running repertory theatre in New Zealand to never have shut its doors.

But it was on the verge of closing, when Julie Lankshear took over as President.

"We owed more than what we had in the bank, and in those days banks didn't lend money to people like the theatre," she says.

Recently-elected President Sarah Oemcke is very proud of Tauranga's rich theatre-life.

"We are in the technological age, but yet theatre has been around for so long, for thousands of years, and it's still going. That's something to be celebrated really," she says.

The theatre recently had a 40 thousand dollar makeover, just in time for its gala night that saw members celebrate the vibrant and precious community hub.

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