Tim Bray appreciates the past of Auckland's theatre industry and how it has become home.

I was 2 when my family -- parents Ken and Margaret, brothers Chris and Andy and sister Rosemary -- moved from my birthplace, Kaikoura, to Howick (where my younger brother Jonathan was born). My parents were immigrants from the UK via Adelaide and have always appreciated the new life this land and people have given them. I have moved around quite a bit since then... on to Panmure, Remuera, Meadowbank, to my first flat in Mt Eden, then Federal St, on to my own home in St Johns and 18 years ago to my current home in Ponsonby.

Twenty-five years ago I set up my theatre company, then called The Central Theatre. It was in the space now home to the Basement Theatre behind the Town Hall. It's remarkable to think that the Mercury was still open and I had to drive artwork and bromide logos across town to my print designer brother Andy instead of emailing them. And despite the huge increase in technology, screens and instant entertainment, children today still richly respond to the stories, characters, humour and poignancy of live theatre as they did when I started.

We've presented nearly 80 professional productions and we're proud of our longevity and thankful for the support our audiences, funders, creative and production teams provide. We've experienced some amazing highlights -- performing for the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall when they attended our Queen's Jubilee celebratory performance of Hairy Maclary -- and performing our version of A Lion in the Meadow for Margaret Mahy at her 70th birthday.

Now we're called Tim Bray Productions, and my dream is to have our own dedicated theatre space for children in Auckland with a constant presentation of quality local, national and international theatre. Perhaps we'll be celebrating our 50th anniversary in it?


There's a degree of historical irony in the deserved success of the Pop Up Globe. On that very site in the 1980s was the empty Salvation Army Congress Hall which had an auditorium with great acoustics, rehearsal rooms and offices and was scheduled to be pulled down. Several performing arts companies raised their voices to use it as a shared base.

The Congress Hall was demolished in 1980 and the area has ever since been a carpark and three of those arts companies (Auckland Youth Theatre, Performing Arts School, NZ Puppet Theatre) are no longer here.

I love and know Auckland well and there's so much of it I treasure, but these would be my top spots:

1 Ponsonby

Yes, the gay, bohemian, Maori, Pasifika, actor, musician, poet, eclectic, student-filled suburb that I moved into has sadly mostly long gone, but the ease of living in an urban village, still with butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, you can't beat. And here's to the local shopkeeper friends we have made: Kussum and Suresh at our local Jairam's Dairy, Carole at The Women's Bookshop and Bev at the Trade Aid shop.

2 Tamaki Drive

The drive along our beautiful harbour is world-class and a treat each time. I still wonder at the subtly changing shape of Rangitoto.

3 Morning commute

Across the harbour bridge our offices at the Lake House Arts Centre in Takapuna and to The PumpHouse Theatre, where we stage our shows -- an ever-changing panorama.

4 Centennial Street at the museum

Oh wait, that's been demolished. The three art deco houses in St Heliers. Oh, demolished. His Majesty's. Demolished. So many great cities around the world restore and work with what was there before, enhancing the charm of the city.

5 West Coast beaches

A friend of mine from London could not believe that within a short drive of downtown Auckland she was standing on a vast beach, alone.

The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch, April 16-30. See: timbrayproductions.org.nz