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Te Wairoa Scores International Film Guru Investment

A ‘can do’ attitude combined with an injection of super-modern technology has resulted in an exciting new partnership between the revitalised Gaiety Theatre and internationally-recognised film production company Starkraving.

Wairoa District Council and Te Mātārae o Te Wairoa Trust have formed an agreement with Starkraving to enable the company to establish a new business based initially in the iconic Gaiety Theatre that will provide career opportunities and has the potential to put Wairoa on the international film-making map.

Chief Technical Officer Eric Stark said the initial aim is to get the Gaiety functioning at the highest possible technical level, which will begin with the installation of the first 9.3 surround system in the country.

Sound and special effects equipment will be added, and will be used on local, national and international film, television and media arts projects.

“My team and I aim to support and help promote the re-launch of the Gaiety, including providing a timelapse promotional video of the process as it happens,” he said.

Mr Stark and his crew will, in respectful consultation with iwi and hapu of Te Wairoa, spend time exploring the many myths, legends and historic stories of Te Wairoa, then tell these stories through a visual and aural medium to share with people both nationally and internationally.

In addition, budding film-makers will have the opportunity to learn from the Starkraving team via a film picture, sound and visual effects workshop which will tour the district’s schools. The intention is that this will lead on to the establishment of a film, sound and special effects school with international affiliations.

“We intend to help promote and market the Gaiety, as well as Te Wairoa, as a ‘can-do’ place in NZ and internationally. It is our intention to employ locally as many people as we can, as well as bring in national and international media projects to be completed in Te Wairoa by the local team we hope to establish,” Mr Stark said.

“It is great to see the council and trust working together to bring about this revitalisation. It is our belief that the Gaiety revitalisation will change not only how Wairoa regards itself as a creative, visionary place, but also how the rest of New Zealand looks at Wairoa,” he said.

Wairoa District Council CEO Fergus Power said this was a fantastic opportunity for the people of Wairoa to not only have their district captured by award-winning sound and film makers, but also to learn about the art from the best.

“We are fortunate to have Mr Stark here in Wairoa. His presence, and that of his crew, will really bring the Gaiety to life and provide long-lasting benefits to the community. Real career pathways will open up to our people, and film created here by Starkraving can be used to promote the district and really show who we are. This sort of novel and exciting initiative is exactly in line with my intention to promote Te Wairoa as being ‘The New Magnet for Bright Young Minds’, and it represents a very real possibility of local employment for our creative young people, keen to adopt skills in the latest digital technologies,” he said.

Keen theatre-goers can have a taste of the new technology when the Gaiety Theatre officially re-opens with a Grand Gala, also marking the 10th Wairoa Māori Film Festival, on Saturday, May 30.

This will be followed on Sunday by free screenings of Māori short films from 10am to 2.30pm, and a 3pm screening of the feature film ‘Umbrella Man’ directed by Lennie Hill of Ngapuhi descent. Tickets for the feature film are $10 each, with half of all proceeds to be donated to a local charity.


Fergus Power
Wairoa District Council
(06) 838 7309

Eric Stark
Chief Technical Officer

5 July 2016

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