As the local MP the projects that I am most proud of are those that deliver strong heritage outcomes for the local population and I have always been a strong lobbyist for arts and culture. It gives residents and visitors to our city a high-profile world-class destination, offering a year-round programme of theatre and entertainment.
In December 2014 I was in attendance as we marked the start of work on the $36.5 million Waterfront theatre project in Wynyard Quarter. It was a great pleasure to see work being on a project I have been a big supporter of. The Theatre will seat 650 and draw some of the finest New Zealand and international talent. The history of Auckland is that heritage battles have almost always been confrontations rather than conversations so the public/private funding mix of this project is to be applauded.
Central Government is supporting this project through Creative New Zealand, as is the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board. However, this project would not have been possible without the support of ASB Bank and Auckland Council. One of the benefits of having one Auckland Council is that we can now have a much more integrated and planned approach to heritage that looks right across Auckland.
It is great to see the Mayor is focused on ensuring that both Auckland’s built and cultural heritage is better protected. I am very supportive of the Council’s heritage plan for Auckland and was happy to see the draft plan was published in November 2014.
I also believe that the restoration of the St James Theatre needs to happen but there is a lot of work to do before we can restore the jewel to her rightful place in our city. There are significant heritage issues and it is positive that the Mayor is getting an urgent report assessing ways to save the iconic St James Theatre. In addition to this the role of the Mercury Theatre needs to be properly considered.
At a Central Government level we reviewed the Historic Places Trust to ensure it will be better able to focus on its important regulatory role while allowing for better advocacy in local communities. We have also announced changes to the process for getting approval for archaeological consents so that they are faster, simpler, and more efficient. Continuing to support our cultural and heritage projects is integral to making Auckland a cultural hub for locals and tourists alike.