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Fit-out funds still needed for Karori Event Centre

The construction of a new, enclosed and secure building for the long-awaited Event Centre in Karori is complete. But the Trust administering the community project needs $816,000 to finish the internal fit-out.

The Karori Event Centre, waiting for its interior fit-out

The western Wellington suburb of Karori is one of the biggest in the country.

Public facilities include a pool, library, arts and crafts centre, Community Centre and the Karori Recreation Centre and Community Emergency Hub. But there is no public hall available for community use at affordable rates.

Since 2007 the Karori Event Centre Trust (KECT) has raised $2.4 million from donors and grant organisations that include the Wellington City Council, Lion Foundation, Lotteries and the Nikau Foundation to complete the building construction.

But delays and cost increases mean that while construction of the building exterior is now complete, the Trust now faces the challenge of raising around $816,000 for the internal fit-out.

“Every dollar counts,” said KECT chair Wallace Simmers. “We are now very close to completing the Centre, and are hoping the public will rally behind us and support the final push that will allow the Centre to open soon.”

The original plan was to start building the Karori Event Centre in late 2015, but construction did not start until November 2016.

Community consultation led to the formation in 2007 of the Karori Community Hall Trust (now the Karori Event Centre Trust) which proposed a flexible, open-fronted community venue designed to meet the needs of all of Western Suburbs residents, promising a place for activities, performances, meetings and celebrations, run on a not-for-profit basis, and accessible to everybody at a reasonable cost.

The current plan for the Event Centre is for a modern public hall located next to the Karori Community Centre. The Event Centre, designed by theatre specialists Shand Shelton Architects, will include an auditorium with 16-metre wide stage, wooden floor and good acoustics, surrounded by event display and exhibition space in a glassed foyer that can be opened up to a courtyard.

Retractable seating will offer theatrical capacity of 218, and table-seating capacity of 100. Back-of-house facilities are to include a catering kitchen, dressing, meeting and storage rooms and amenities.

St John’s Hall on the corner of Karori Road and Campbell Street, had been used as a community hall since 2007, until it was damaged during the 2013 and 2016 earthquake, and demolished by Council in early 2017.

The St John’s site, which also included the Lighthouse Centre and a small hall dating from 1912, was purchased in 2000 from the Methodist Church of New Zealand as part of the Karori Town Centre upgrade project. It was initially used as a temporary solution to provide suitable storage while the new Karori Library was built.

The co-location of the new library, community centre and recreation centre, led the Council to retain St John’s in 2007 and for it to be managed through the Karori Community Centre. This was seen as a temporary arrangement to allow time to assess the communities’ interest in building a new hall.

The original plan was to start building the Karori Event Centre in late 2015, but construction did not start until November 2016.

The Centre was originally expected to be completed by late 2017, but cost increases since 2015 mean that while construction of the building exterior is now complete, more money is required for the interior fit-out.

The KECT is not proceeding with work until the $816,000 required for the fit-out has been raised.

Naming rights are available for those who wish to leave an enduring mark on the new Centre. These include the rights to name the building, interior rooms or individual seating.

Donations can be made at karorieventcentre.co.nz

All donations are eligible for a tax credit.