Some Rotorua district residents are seeing red over a proposal that would see them contributing to the cost of a theatre in Hamilton.

As part of its Long Term Plan (LTP) consultation, the Waikato Regional Council is asking if a rate should be collected for a new $73 million regional theatre.

There are 1300 ratepayers in the Rotorua District that come under the Waikato Regional Council area - from Reporoa, Ngakuru, Waikite Valley and upper Atiamuri.

Some of them and Rotorua's Rural Community Board are against the proposal, saying it will not benefit them.


According to the LTP document, the theatre is proposed for a site on Victoria St on the banks of the Waikato River, and will be "a home for the community's vibrant artistic and creative communities".

The total cost of the project is estimated at $73m, with local government to contribute $30m. Of local government's contribution, it's intended $25m will come from Hamilton City Council ratepayers.

Community organisation Momentum Waikato has asked Waikato Regional Council ratepayers (excluding Hamilton City) to contribute $5m towards building the theatre, the document states.

Rating would start in 2019/20.

"Our assessment has identified primary and secondary beneficiaries of the proposed theatre. Those who we believe to be primary beneficiaries outside of Hamilton include Waikato, Waipa and Matamata-Piako ratepayers.

"Secondary beneficiaries include all other regional ratepayers – Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Otorohanga, Waitomo, South Waikato, Taupo and the portion of Rotorua in our region.

"Based on this, our preferred option is that of our $5m contribution, $4.5m would come from the three primary beneficiaries outside Hamilton – Waikato, Waipa and Matamata Piako ratepayers – with $0.5m coming from the remainder of our ratepayers."

Primary beneficiaries would pay $10.26 per property per year. Secondary beneficiaries would pay 93c per property per year.


Rotorua Rural Community Board chairwoman Shirley Trumper said although it was only 93c, it was the principle that mattered.

"If we don't fight back where does it finish?

"It was never the intent to worry about the cost, it was the fact there would be a rate."

She said the board would submit against the proposal.

"It's not a regional theatre that suits South Waikato and Rotorua people."

Trumper questioned why people would want to pay for a theatre in Hamilton when the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre in Rotorua was set for an extensive renovation.

She also believed it could set a precedent for other regionwide projects to be proposed.

A post by Trumper on the Reporoa Community Notices Facebook page received 72 comments. They were all against the proposal.

One of those was Reporoa farmer Jeff McDonald, who told the Rotorua Daily Post: "In Reporoa we pay WRC rates because tributaries of the Waikato River flow through our properties. So hence they are an environmental council.

"The rates we pay are to be used for the health and management of the waterways and adjacent land.

"The building of a theatre in Hamilton has nothing to do with an environmental council, and has no benefit whatsoever to the environment, so why should our environmental rates be paying for this?"

Other commenters were strongly opposed to the idea.

One said "absolutely not, where do you draw the line, if we pay for something in Hamilton we may be expected to pay for something in Auckland, Wellington etc".

Another said "arts have no place for expenditure from a community struggling with the costs of existing. Priorities, people".

The LTP document states that the final concept design for the theatre still needs to be completed by Momentum Waikato.

"There are a number of outstanding issues on which we, and Hamilton City Council, need to be satisfied with before providing funding."

They include confirming the site is structurally sound, there is adequate parking, there is good access for production related vehicles, and that Momentum Waikato has committed funding in place to complete the project.

Submissions on the LTP close on April 16.