Fast-growing Hamilton has one of the youngest populations in the country and is fast becoming a cosmopolitan ‘little big city’.

The lifestyle in The Tron and the Waikato is attractive to talent from all over the world, but its CBD has struggled to fulfil its potential as a place to work, live and play - a gap in the city’s overall offering.

New developments have begun the change, including tidy river-view apartments, smartly refurbished commercial space and flash new office buildings, but the critical mass required for high-density, car-free, culturally rich inner-city bustle has not yet been achieved.

The Waikato Regional Theatre is the project to achieve this transformation. A place where we gather in exciting spaces, with a river vista, to be entertained and inspired.

A top-of-the-line venue where choirs, hip-hop crews, theatre companies, musicians, poets, Kapa Haka, Toi Māori and every kind of arts and cultural group share the stage.

The night-time buzz of the theatre and its hospitality spots will be a destination that neatly complements the region’s day-time tourism attractions such as Hobbiton, Waitomo, Maungatautari and the Hamilton Gardens, giving visitors good reason to linger in the Waikato.

The theatre will realise the dream of generations of Hamiltonians by decisively turning the city to the river. The foyer and courtyard event spaces will offer a sophisticated urban setting, looking out at the stunning vista of our awa.

The complex and its surroundings will also celebrate the significance of te awa and this place to the mana whenua, through pouwhenua, tukutuku and other cultural decoration and treatments.

We thank Waikato Tainui and Te Haa o Te Whenua o Kirikiriroa (THaWK) for their support and look forward to continuing engagement in the spirit of partnership.

The heritage of the site will also be realised through the retention and enhancement of the Hamilton Hotel frontage, and the Riff Raff Statue will continue to be the centrepiece of the Rocky Horror Show-theming of the street-end of the adjacent Embassy Park.

This new performing arts centre will be the centrepiece of a landmark creative district and a huge boon for the CBD's vibrant restaurant and café culture.

Vicky McLennan, the Chair of Trust Waikato and a former Principal of Waikato Diocesan School for Girls, lives ‘next door’ to the theatre site, on Sapper Moore-Jones Place.

“To be a real city, Hamilton needs a thriving cultural precinct that evokes local flavour and identity, to set it apart from other towns,” says Vicky.

“The theatre will be close to accommodation, food and entertainment, Waikato Museum-Te Whāre Tāonga O Waikato, ArtsPost and the growing number of galleries popping up in the surrounding streets. I can’t wait!”

Our CBD is becoming a groovy, exciting place to live and work, and the Waikato Regional Theatre will take it to the next level, creating a full spectrum cosmopolitan city centre beloved by visitors and locals alike.

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