Is there life in the Taihape theatre yet?
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.
The Majestic Theatre in Taihape is due for an inspection.