Is there life in the Tai­hape the­atre yet?

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Taihape - AL­IS­TER BROWNE

When the build­ing en­gi­neers come to run their rulers over Tai­hape’s Ma­jes­tic The­atre in Tui Street, they’ll be open­ing the lat­est chap­ter in a che­quered 100-year-old his­tory.

It’s a saga that saw the Ma­jes­tic burned to the ground in 1916 and saved from de­mo­li­tion by bull­dozer in 1998.

In be­tween times the Ma­jes­tic built a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a fine coun­try cinema, at­tract­ing shep­herds and drovers from all over the cen­tral North Is­land.

They would leave their horses teth­ered out­side but take their flea-in­fested sad­dles in­side with them.

Trains would stay at the sta­tion at the top of the street un­til the pic­tures were over so pa­trons with­out a horse wouldn’t miss the train home.

In a later life, se­nior stu­dents from Tai­hape Col­lege ran the the­atre be­tween 1992 and 1994, man­ag­ing it for just over as year af­ter they re­opened it from a clo­sure of nearly two years. Gina Ma­son, a mem­ber of the com­mit­tee that runs the Ma­jes­tic, said the the­atre is now recog­nised as a cat­e­gory 2 build­ing by Her­itage New Zealand - so not top pri­or­ity when it comes to pro­tec­tion from the de­mo­li­tion squad.

But hope­fully im­por­tant enough for the Tai­hape Her­itage Trust, which owns the the­atre, to tap into out­side sources for money should it be needed to bring it up to earth­quake-proof stan­dards.

No date has been set for the build­ing’s in­spec­tion but it could be up to five years in the fu­ture.

Ran­gitı¯kei Dis­trict Coun­cil en­vi­ron­ment and reg­u­la­tory ser­vices team leader Jo­han Cullis said un­til the en­gi­neers had done their thing, no­body could say for sure how many of Tai­hape’s old build­ings would need strength­en­ing to the new post-Christchurch earth­quake stan­dards, or de­mo­li­tion if the owner wasn’t pre­pared to spend the money.

He said be­cause the coun­cil had de­cided af­ter lis­ten­ing to pub­lic op­po­si­tion not to de­cide on mak­ing pri­or­ity ar­eas in places like Tai­hape, the time­line for ex­am­in­ing build­ings had now been stretched out to up to five years.

And there will still be in­di­vid­ual pri­or­ity build­ings such as po­lice sta­tions, hos­pi­tals, fire sta­tions, coun­cil build­ings and emer­gency op­er­at­ing cen­tres (civil de­fence build­ings).

Cullis said they would be the first to be looked at.

Then the en­gi­neers would move on - with un­re­in­forced ma­sonry build­ings their first tar­get.

An­other in­flu­en­tial fac­tor is the level of use a build­ing gets, so a pic­ture the­atre would be in the frame early on for the en­gi­neers.

The Ma­jes­tic has a ca­pac­ity of 138 and is of­ten in use four days a week, with at least one ses­sion daily, oc­ca­sion­ally up to five.

But Ma­son said she was ‘‘not wor­ried’’ be­cause some ear­lier strength­en­ing had been car­ried out.

She also thought there was an ear­lier en­gi­neer’s re­port on the state of the build­ing and due to its her­itage listing there would be sources of money the her­itage trust could ap­proach to pay for the likes of a fea­si­bil­ity study if needed.

WAR­WICK SMITH/STUFF

The Ma­jes­tic The­atre in Tai­hape is due for an in­spec­tion.

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