Regent Theatre

23 Weld Street And Tancred Street, Hokitika

  • Regent Theatre. Image courtesy of .
    Copyright: Jason Jones. Taken By: Jason Jones - jjay69. Date: 26/04/2009.
  • Regent Theatre. South and east elevation.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Date: 22/04/2008.
  • Regent Theatre. Roof restoration.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Date: 1/08/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 5053 Date Entered 21st September 1989


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 2026 (CT WS3D/856), Westland Land District and the building known as Regent Theatre thereon.

City/District Council

Westland District


West Coast Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 2026 (CT WS3D/856), Westland Land District


Hokitika’s Art Deco style Regent Theatre, constructed in 1935, tells the story of a small New Zealand town conforming at an early date to international cinema design standards. Its continuous history as an independent cinema and theatre connects the building with the social life of the town’s inhabitants and reflects the waves of popularity of this form of entertainment.

In 1934, local Hokitika residents decided that a new theatre was required since the 1880s Princess Theatre at 34 Gibson Quay was in poor condition. West Coast Cinemas Ltd was formed for this purpose and part of the Mandl brewery site on Weld Street was purchased. The company decided to operate and exhibit motion pictures themselves instead of leasing the theatre to one of the theatre chains. A licence was granted in early 1935 and construction was carried out between July and December 1935. The official Regent Theatre opening was held on 10 January 1936. The theatre quickly became the main entertainment venue in Hokitika, with facilities not only for movies but also stage and dressing rooms for live theatre.

Sited on a prominent corner location in central Hokitika, the main street elevation exhibits the stepped symmetrical forms typical of the Art Deco style, with horizontal emphasis in the use of banding, window and elevation proportions, and chevron patterns in the window frames. Materials used on the exterior are painted cement render, steel window frames and timber framed shop fronts. The main components of the interior are the theatre foyer, auditorium and back stage. Decoration on the interior includes zigzag patterns and recessed horizontal lines, and materials used are mostly painted plaster over timber.

In 1954, new automatic projectors with high intensity automatic arc lamps were installed, along with a wide fibreglass screen for showing Cinemascope films. It was, at the time, one of the best-equipped movie theatres in New Zealand and patronage was high for many decades. Cinema attendance in New Zealand fell sharply after the advent of television in the 1960s. In 1977 the Regent Theatre was purchased by Westland Community Centre Incorporated after a major public fundraising effort. This non-profit society manages, repairs and improves the Regent Theatre for the benefit of the community. From 1979-1986 major internal renovations were carried out, including strengthening, new toilet facilities, reupholstered seating, new lighting, improved sound, stage facilities, improved fire protection, dressing rooms, lounge/meeting room and foyer alterations. After a subsequent period of decline and uncertainty, another major restoration of the theatre began in 2007, including the repair of exterior reinforced masonry walls and storm water systems and, more recently, refurbishment of the interior facilities. State of the art projection and sound equipment was installed, meaning that it was the first theatre in New Zealand to have converted completely to mainstream digital projection and 3D. As well as screening movies, the Regent Theatre now hosts a wide range of events, from the ANZAC Day service and Christmas carols to travelling musical and theatrical shows and film festivals.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Lawry, Wilfred Melville

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Shirley, E H

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1935 -

1954 -
Cinemascope equipment installed

1979 - 1986
Internal renovations

2007 - 2013
Weatherproofing of outer walls, refurbishment of interior, installation of new projector and sound equipment

Completion Date

7th November 2014

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Information Sources

Brittenden, 2008

Wayne Brittenden, Celluloid Circus: The Heyday of the NZ Picture Theatre, Auckland, 2008

Other Information

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Southern Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.