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Gaiety to reopen in limited capacity

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Screenings on the Gaiety Theatre’s big screen could be returned this month - although in a limited capacity.

Months of behind-the-scenes work will see screenings back, starting from next week when the Matatini, National Kapa Haka Festival, will be shown at the theatre free of charge.

After that it is hoped movies will be able to be played, although it is unlikely new releases will be able to be screened at the time of release.

Technical issues with the Gaiety’s projector resulted in the end of movie screenings in August last year.

Since then, the search has been on for parts to repair the projector but this has not been successful. As an alternative option, another projection unit has now been able to be connected to the Gaiety sound system enabling films to be played via Blu-ray or HDMI cable plugged in to a laptop.

Council staff have been working with Roadshow Australia, Australia and New Zealand’s leading film distributor, for a licensing agreement to allow films to be publicly screened. This authority was agreed to at the end of last week meaning movies can again be played at the Gaiety in a limited capacity and admission will be at a discounted price in recognition of the movies not being new releases.

Wairoa District Council Chief Executive Kitea Tipuna said not being able to show movies at the Gaiety has been as frustrating for Council as it has been for the public. “We appreciate the patience our community has shown. The whole process, from the initial technical breakdown, to arranging licensing for limited screenings, has been very slow, despite the fact a lot of work has been going on in the background. Thank you to Council staff and members of the community who have supported us in getting this far.”

Moving forward an option is to buy a new projector. This is expected to cost around $100,000 for a projector that is compatible with the current lens, server and big screen. 

Staff are preparing an application for the Lottery Community Facilities Fund, which if successful, could allow a new projector to be purchased.

If the application is not successful, future options will need to be discussed by elected members with a Gaiety update on the agenda of today’s (Tuesday February 14) Strategy, Wellbeing and Economic Development Committee.

Meanwhile, whānau are encouraged to head to the Gaiety over the duration of the Matatini festival which runs from Wednesday February 22 to Saturday February 25.

Entry will be free and the box office will be open selling popcorn, drinks and ice cream.

Wairoa’s very own Matangirau will be performing on Thursday, February 23, at midday.

Over the four-day festival, the Gaiety doors will open at 7.30am in time to screen the karakia at 8am, with the first performances starting at 8.15am. Performances finish at around 6pm each evening.

Mr Tipuna extended a thanks to community members who have supported the screening of the Matatini festival. “We look forward to seeing you back at the Gaiety Theatre next week.”

21 February 2023

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