News | 27 December 2019
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St James Theatre on track for NZ Festival return

Work on Wellington’s historic St James Theatre is progressing well and is on track to be ready for the 2022 New Zealand Festival.

Image of stage and boxes being worked on for strengthening

The Courtenay Place icon is one year into its strengthening and refurbishment and Mayor Andy Foster says the work is crucial to ensure Wellington retains its title of capital of culture.

“We visited the site last week and Maycroft and Beca are doing a fantastic job. The reinforcing and strengthening work is impressive.

“The St James, along with the Town Hall and other historically significant buildings, are taonga that we must keep alive.

“It is pleasing to see these projects are on track to be completed in December 2021 – in time for the 2022 New Zealand Festival.

“The St James will also once again be a long-term home for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, NZ Festival, Venues Wellington, NZ Opera and others.

“This beautiful building will again be a crucial centrepiece of the Courtenay Precinct and we look forward to its reopening.”

Councillor Iona Pannett, who holds the Building Heritage Resilience Portfolio, says no one wants to see civic buildings boarded up indefinitely.

“Wellingtonians can be assured that we are working hard to reopen these fantastic buildings.

“The St James has been there since 1912 and we nearly lost it in the late 1980s before Council bought it in 1993 following one of the country’s largest heritage battles.

“It is wonderful that this grand old building will get a new lease of life.”

The St James Theatre is an important building within Wellington City Council’s building portfolio, with Category 1 Heritage status, and home to a number of tenants including the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Festivals, Venues Wellington and Mojo cafe.

Work started in April this year and is scheduled to be completed in December 2021.

The strengthening work will increase its New Building Standard from 15-20 percent currently to at least 67 percent.

Wellington City Council has been working with Heritage NZ and a conservation architect to preserve the historic integrity of the building.

The main construction work is being carried out by Maycroft Construction and project management services are being provided by Beca.