Newspaper Article 2015 – Cash injection to fix up opera house

Cash injection to fix up opera house

By Doug Laing
[email protected]

The prudence of Hastings stalwart Lily Baker has resulted in $3538.89 being given to kickstart a Hawke’s Bay Opera House restoration fund.

The donation amassed from $1000 she invested on behalf of volunteer organisation Keep Hastings Beautiful when its role was taken over by Hastings District Council 13 years ago.

The organisation is finally being wound-up, so trustees agreed the money should start the fund, and, born in Hastings 80 years ago, Mrs Baker said: “We know it’s not a lot of money, but nothing else is happening.”

Just like nothing had been happening with the money, which she said had once been left in a bank account doing little else apart from servicing bank fees.

“I was just the dumb old treasure [treasurer] who had to do something with it,” she said.

It all started happening yesterday when she and fellow trustee Megan Williams, armed with a box of correspondence and documents legitimising the grant, handed over the cheque to Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule, who says his council and staff are working on plans for an expected multi-million restoration and restrengthening.

“We’d like to open the account Hastings Opera House Restoration Fund,” they told the mayor. “Yes, that’s fantastic,” he responded.

The century old theatre, which opened in 1915, has been closed since early last year after being deemed an earthquake risk in the building-standards revision which followed the Canterbury earthquakes.

It has since been thought that up to $20 million may be needed to save the building, the council having pledged an initial $7 million in its budgets, a wall having recently been erected around the site, and concepts due to be announced by the end of this month, ahead of a centennial planned for November.

While it will take more than just council funds, and while yesterday’s windfall is not large in the context of the project, Mr Yule is sure the public will get behind it.

“This is the first contribution and it’s quite timely, because now we’ve just won the Most Beautiful City award, and it was all started with this group. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”

That appealed to Megan Williams, who recalled the work Keep Hastings Beautiful volunteers had done tidying the city around the time of the year-2000 millennium celebrations, including in Oak Ave, picking-up rubbish, leaves, and acorns.

OPERATUNITY: Hastings Opera House restoration gets a financial kickstart. From left mayor of Hastings Lawrence Yule and Keep Hastings Beautiful founding members Lily Baker and Megan Williams.   PHOTO/PAUL TAYLOR

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Newspaper article

Date published

12 September 2015

Creator / Author

  • Doug Laing
  • Paul Taylor


Hawke's Bay Today


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


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