St James Theatre

St James Theatre is closed for scheduled strengthening and refurbishment work.

The St James theatre as viewed from street level.

About the project

In 2015 the St James Theatre Building on Courtenay Place was found to be an earthquake-prone building.  The work to strengthen the St James Theatre to a minimum 67 per cent of the New Building Standard started in April 2019. 

Other improvements will be made, such as upgrades to staging, lighting, sound and rigging systems, as well as the fire protection, mechanical and electrical systems. 

This work is expected to be completed by the end of December 2021, in time for 2022 New Zealand Festival. The specific handover date will be confirmed 12 months prior to the expected completion date.

Key activities that have been completed include: 

  • heritage fabric removals in the auditorium
  • general demolition and seismic interface preparation
  • Courtenay Place and Laneway temporary works prep
  • ground works and utilities relocation
  • auditorium façade strengthening works
  • strengthening to Studio 2 and 3
  • test piling completed to confirm soil performance / required methodology prior to progression of production piles.

Key activities in progress:

  • heavy demolition works within the Auditorium and Ballet Building 
  • localised steel installation in the Auditorium and Ballet Building
  • installation of reinforcing in preparation for the new ground beam to be installed.
  • auditorium Façade strengthening works
  • strengthening to Studio 2 and 3
  • geotechnical test piling

Who we are working with

The significant heritage elements, including the historic decorative interior, within the St James Theatre need to be preserved and carefully protected. The team are working closely with Heritage New Zealand and conservation architects to ensure the heritage values are upheld and adhered to.

Construction works are being led by Maycroft Construction Ltd.


Home of the Royal New Zealand Ballet, NZ Festival and the New Zealand Opera, the St James Theatre is the jewel in the crown of Wellington's theatre scene. The Theatre hosts a variety of dance, drama, opera, comedy and cabaret every year. Designed and built in 1912 by Henry Eli White, the building has Category 1 Heritage status. 

The St James Theatre is comprised of the St James Building (Auditorium and Stage House) and adjoining Counties (Ballet) Building.