Regent Theatre

17 The Octagon, Dunedin

  • Regent Theatre.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Chris Horwell. Date: 4/02/2014.
  • Regent Theatre. Building detail.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Chris Horwell. Date: 4/02/2014.
  • Regents Theatre. Interior. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Derek Smith - travelling-light. Taken By: Derek Smith - travelling-light. Date: 7/10/2004.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Registered List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1
List Number 4363 Date Entered 26th November 1987


City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Assessment criteriaopen/close

The façade of the theatre was in existence by 1904 and is probably the original façade of a large rooming and shop building of the 1880s. The shops included Mrs Harrison's popular restaurant, and the rooms were let to middle-income workers. A bricked-up fireplace in a downstairs office indicates that part of the original building is still within the structure.

The land was owned in the 1920s by Mr F G Duncan, a Dunedin solicitor, who became chairman of the Regent Theatre Company which built the theatre auditorium behind the frontage. Though built to promote the new film industry, the stage was used immediately for visiting performers such as Clara Bow and for local groups such as the Otago School of Dancing.

The building fell into disuse with the decline in film audiences in the 1960s and was taken over by the Otago Theatre Trust in 1972. The Dunedin City Corporation and Kerridge Odeon, the recent owners of the building, helped substantially, but the main funding for refurbishing the building has come from the citizen of Dunedin by private subscription. The trust has developed the stage area to improve it as a venue for live theatre and kept the building in use. They have maintained and not modified the ornate interior and maintained the large seating capacity of about 1800 seats.

This is a building which the public of Dunedin have voted with their purses and feet to retain.


One of the best interiors of this period in Otago.


Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

The highly decorated theatre interior.

Construction Details

Materials of the interior are concrete, plaster and varnished wood. The wide fan-shaped proscenium allows excellent viewing from all parts of the theatre. The ornate plaster work of the ceiling and proscenium is matched by the elegance of design of the galleries and staircases.

Otago Theatre Trust

Trust records, publications by the Otago Theatre Trust.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.