News | 22 June 2023
Share on social

Newtown's refreshed Community and Cultural Centre

The upgraded Newtown Community and Cultural Centre encompasses all the personality of Newtown – quintessentially quirky, retro, and full of life.

Exterior of a large beige building with big windows that have green window panes.

Right in the centre of the suburb, this heritage listed building has been a key part of the community since 1977. 

Due to the nature of the building, a lot of the spaces within the centre had potential to become more functional for the community.

With funding from Wellington City Council, the centre has recently under-gone and completed a major upgrade of its facilities – making it more accessible and comfortable for all to use.

Kaiwhakahaere/Manager Eryn Gribble has been working for the Newtown Community Centre trust for the last seven years and worked through various stages of the project.

Consultations within the suburb gave people the opportunity to speak up about what they wanted to see, and Eryn believes you can see their vision coming through in the upgrade.

“We took the designs to the community and heard what they wanted to see. A lot of people voiced their concerns about the character leaving the building, so we wanted to keep elements through the quirky lounge décor and the eclectic vibe.”

Retro lounge with a few couches at the Newtown Community Centre.

Living in Newtown herself, she thinks that the changes to the centre will be wonderful for a wide range of people to enjoy based on the variety of spaces available.

“This includes a new dance hall with springy wooden floors that are gentle on the knees, with a mirror for dance or yoga classes. On the second floor there are two small meeting rooms that are good for counselling or small groups and a larger meeting room that has a cupboard filled with art supplies, and a lino floor so it can be multi-use. 

“Previously it was a larger carpeted meetings room and we heard during the consultation that people want to make a bit more of a mess and so more art activities could happen. The centre also has tenants like the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Wellington Time Bank, where people can share their skills and knowledge in exchange for time credits instead of money. The centre has also been upgraded to be more accessible, with wider doors and an elevator, and all gendered toilets.”

An especially exciting part of the upgrade is the work that was done in the theatre, which is the only part of the upgrade that remains in the same location. Not only has it had a face-lift, but new technology funded by Lotteries Communities Facilities has been incorporated to make the space easier to use, adds Eryn.

Inside a theatre with a stage lit up by lights and stained glass windows on the left hand side of the room.
Image credit: Antonio Hernandez.

“For a long time, our theatre has been running as kind of a stripped back black box, where the odd group would bring in lights to plug in themselves. We always had the vision that our community deserves a facility that comes with everything our local theatre producers, musicians and creatives need, alongside those that are holding meetings and having celebrations. We now have a touch panel on the wall that anyone can use to change the lighting, sound, operate the projector and play music. It saves so much time and anyone can get full use out of the system without having technical know-how.”

While the centre has only been reopened since May, a lot of positive community feedback has been coming in about the upgrade.

Family of three reading on the couch at the newtown community centre.

“It’s special watching people’s faces light up. While our older space felt shabby, it was still home to a lot of people. We worked really hard to keep it a warm and welcoming environment, and people have been blown away.”

The Newtown Community Centre / Te Whare Hapori o Ngā Puna Waiora is currently operating with drop-in session hours from 9am to 4.30pm. The centre invites people to pop in during that time, help themselves to the communal fridge, have a cup of tea and spend time in the space. 

To find out more about the centre, visit the Newtown Community Centre website or the Council website