Government helps to unlock the doors of St James Theatre

Arts, Culture and Heritage Auckland

The Government has committed to doing its part to support the restoration and revival of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s much loved, nationally significant, and historic St James Theatre, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni announced today.

“After being closed for the last 15 years, our Government’s contribution towards the preservation of the St James Theatre will sit alongside funding from the Auckland Council and the owner to support its restoration so that it can reopen for the wider public to enjoy again – concert experiences, stately décor and all,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“Successive Governments have signalled their support for the project, but I’m pleased that we’re able to finally get this contribution across the line, to help save this important piece of cultural and national heritage.

“We’ll now be engaging with the strong community around the Theatre, including Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and mana whenua, to develop funding conditions around the Government’s investment.

“Built in 1928, the St James Theatre is a staple of Auckland’s arts precinct. It was where Sir Howard Morrison premiered ‘Whakaaria Mai’, his Te Reo Māori version of ‘How Great Thou Art,’ in 1981, and Queen Elizabeth II attended performances and events there three times during her reign.

“The St James Theatre is a place of outstanding historical and cultural heritage significance. Our Government’s contribution to support the restoration of the Theatre underlines not only the importance of protecting our heritage buildings, but the significance of the theatre’s place in our history.

“Our Government’s contribution will match and is contingent on a pledge of $15 million from Auckland Council, as well as other funding conditions that will be developed following community engagement. Mayor Wayne Brown has provided me with his assurance that the Council’s commitment still stands.

“It goes without saying, Auckland has been through a lot in recent times, but I hope that our Government’s support towards the St James as part of the arts precinct, will help keep the heartbeat of the city centre alive.

“I want to acknowledge the longstanding support the Theatre has had and the various ongoing campaigns to preserve the St James. It proves that communities across Aotearoa New Zealand value this taonga of live performance and cultural heritage and are eager to see it saved,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

The Government has agreed to make a conditional contribution of $15 million towards the conservation of the St James Theatre.

The St James Theatre is considered nationally significant as one of the best-preserved vaudeville theatres in Aotearoa and is a Category 1 listed building by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.