A $4 million performing arts centre being built at Rotorua's John Paul College will rival similar centres around the country and fill a void left by the closure of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.

Principal Patrick Walsh said, once completed, the state-of-the-art facility would boast a dance studio, music suite, a drama suite and a "black box", an unadorned and windowless room for performance.

Walsh described the project as very exciting.

"The performing arts centre has been in the pipeline for the past three years," he said. "I believe the time is right for Rotorua with the loss of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre."


Doors to the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre were closed in November 2017 after the Fenton St building fell below earthquake standards.

However seismic strengthening and refurbishment of the building are progressing, with construction scheduled to begin this year and a reopening expected in 2020.

"The new college facility will be as good as anything offered in Auckland and Wellington and will not only benefit the students, but also the wider Rotorua community," Walsh said.

The former John Paul College hostel on the school's Mackillop Campus, believed to be about 50 years old, is being remodelled to home the new facility.

"There's a bit of old to go with the new although I have to admit not too much old."

Walsh said John Paul College students excelled at performing arts, both at a local and national level.

"We are always well represented at Shakespeare at the Globe in Auckland. The centre is a great fit for the school and will allow us to build on our strengths in a purpose-built facility."

The first stage of the centre incorporates the dance suite with sprung floor, and music studio, and is scheduled to be completed in July this year. The drama suite and black box will be finished in June 2020.


"We are also in the process of exploring a Performing Arts Academy which will mean employing an academy director."

Walsh said Rotorua had become a town that punched well above its weight within performing arts.

"I believe this centre is important to the school, but also the community. It will allow local groups to stage performances for locals and for visitors."

Lakes Performing Arts studio manager Helen Nicholson said the Performing Arts Centre was exciting for local groups.

"Especially so with the closure of the SHMPAC," Nicholson said. "For a small business like us, the Energy Events Centre is unaffordable because it's massive."

She said having a community space to use for performing art groups in Rotorua was ideal.

"We'd definitely be using the facility for our performances throughout the year, as I'm sure others will. The new centre will be of benefit to Rotorua."

Rotorua Music Federation Secretary Madeline Lauder also agreed there had been a gap since the closure of SHMPAC.

"We were at a real loss when doors closed to the centre," Lauder said. "We've since learned there are one or two other places available but I'm not sure either are dedicated areas so something like that would be of great benefit.

"I also believe the more facilities we [Rotorua] has to offer, means more opportunity for events and performers to come to town.

She said a performing arts centre at John Paul College would be good for the young ones who excel within music and dance.

"There certainly isn't anything bad that can come of it and I'm sure the new centre will get a lot of use by community groups as well as students."

Consent for $3m of work on the performing arts centre made up a large portion of the total consents issued by the Rotorua Lakes Council in January 2019.

A total of eight commercial building consents were issued with a total work value of $4.2m. This compares with eight for the same period last year although the total work value for January 2018 was $11.1m.

Second to the John Paul College consent, applied for by the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Hamilton, was a $520,000 application by the Zalu Family Trust, for a new early childcare building.

A total of 35 residential building consents were issued in January with a work value of $3.9m compared with 30 residential contents with a work value of $5.3m for January 2018.

There were seven new dwelling consents issued with a total work value of $3m.

For the three-month period commercial consents increased by 36.4 per cent (from $19m to $25.6m) while residential consents were down 24.1 per cent (from $26.4m to $20m).