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About the project

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About the project

In 2011 following the Christchurch earthquakes, we had a building assessment done on the Lawson Field Theatre. The assessment found it was earthquake prone under IL3 standards.

The Lawson Field Theatre needs to be earthquake strengthened and refurbished as a result of the assessment.

In addition to the strengthening, we're taking the opportunity to improve the facilities such as the roofing and the exterior cladding, improve drainage, install a firewall between Council's administration building, renovate the back of house toilet and shower facilities, and theatre systems such as lighting and pulley systems.

Council have committed $1.10m to the project in the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan which in 2014, Council thought would be enough. No additional funding will however be required from Council as all further funding required are being raised externally with the assistance of the War Memorial Theatre Trust. The Trust was successful in obtaining a $1m grant from Eastland Community Trust towards the earthquake strengthening.


May 2018 - Council has approved the $3.6 million upgrade of the Lawson Field Theatre. The chief executive will negotiate a contract with local company Currie Construction to carry out the earthquake strengthening and upgrade work.

Council previously committed to fund $1.1 million of the upgrade and is working with the War Memorial Theatre Trust to raise the rest from external grants and fundraising.

The Future Tairawhiti committee approved a preliminary design in September last year.

Since then more detailed designs have been developed, a tendering process undertaken along with an independent risk assessment to get more certainty on the project costs.

Funds totalling $2.167m have been committed from the Lottery Community Facilities Fund, Regional Culture and Heritage Fund, Eastland Community Trust and New Zealand Community Trust.

Construction is likely to begin in July and estimated to take 13 months to complete.

Preliminary designs

Lawson Field Theatre Upgrade Preliminary Designs

Theatre background 

The Lawson Field Theatre was built in 1983 and has a design life of 50 years. The Rose Room was later added to provide a conference/reception area. The theatre design is relatively modern and provides versatile performance space for smaller intimate theatre performances, conventions, conferences, seminars and social functions.

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