The Civic Auckland

The Civic is heritage atmospheric theatre in downtown Auckland.

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Yesterday morning I went on a tour of the The Civic. The tour is scheduled to run for approximately 45 minutes but I was there for almost two and a half hours.

The Civic opened on 20 December 1929. It was a purpose built cinema devised by Thomas O’Brien. It was designed with Indian, Javanese, ancient Persian and Moorish themes. It featured grand staircases, original artwork, exotic figures of animals, including two life-size Abyssinian panther statues. As an atmospheric theatre it had a night sky with twinkling stars.

Construction begun in April 1929 and was completed in 33 weeks. As there were not the health and safety regulations of today it was a dangerous worksite, and at least 8 men have believed to have died during the construction that employed some 2,000 workers.

While it opened to initial interest, audience numbers quickly dropped due to the Depression and O’Brien screening British films rather than the popular Hollywood films, which were screening across the road.

O’Brien departed for Australia in 1932 and a series of mangers were appointed to act on behalf of the original investors.

During the Second World War it was a popular venue for United States soldiers in town.

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By the 1980s, The Civic was rundown and was facing demolition. A group called Friends of the Civic formed and fought for its continuation.

A two year project saw many of the theatre’s original features being restored or recreated. The project also included addition of modern elements, such as a stage with seven-storey fly tower, Green Room, dressing rooms, modern sound and lighting.

The Civic reopened in 1999 on its 70th anniversary of its opening night. Today it is a performing arts venue and cinema, hosting events such as large-scale touring musicals and an international film festival.

The twinkling night sky is a recreation of how the sky was on December 20, 1929.

The Civic is located on the corner of Queen Street and Wellesley Street.

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Stage

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Dressing rooms

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Stage

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Stage – wings

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Ceiling lighting rig

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Flamingo curtain

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Under the stage

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Under the stage

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Wintergarden

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Some of the shows I’ve seen at The Civic

Bright Nights Auckland

Bright Nights is a waterfront lighting festival at Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour.

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This free festival opened last night and runs from 6pm till late until Sunday 13th May.

The trail begins at the KZ1 boat outside the Maritime Museum and ending at Waitematā Plaza.

As well as various light installations there is a silent disco, ‘glow-in-the-dark’ gelato, and roving street performers.

The event is curated by Angus Muir Design

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St. James Theatre Auckland

The St. James Theatre is a heritage stage theatre and cinema in Queen Street currently closed for restoration.

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The theatre, which was built in 1928, was designed as a vaudeville theatre. The increasing popularity of cinema in the late 1920s allowed for a film projector to be added eighteen months after its opening. The theatre has been a venue for live performances and cinema over the years.

In 2007 the theatre closed following a fire. It briefly opened in 2015 during a restoration period.

The restoration project of the historic theatre has been put on hold for the last nine months after the apartment block project next door stalled.

The planned apartment block building will provide the theatre with toilets and disabled access. It is unlikely that the restoration of the theatre will go ahead without government support for both the restoration project and the apartment building project.

Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to tour the St. James Theatre organised by the community group Save the St. James Theatre Auckland.

The tour was led by Steve Bielby, from The Auckland Notable Properties Trust, who is entrusted with restoring and opening the St. James Theatre.

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Brickman: Wonders of the World

Brickman: Wonders of the World is a touring exhibition made entirely from lego® bricks currently on at Auckland War Memorial Museum.

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The exhibition is led by Ryan ‘Brickman’ McNaught, the only LEGO® Certified Professional in the Southern Hemisphere and one of only 14 in the world.

This exhibition first premiered in Brisbane in 2016 and was followed with an Australian tour visiting Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Over the summer the exhibition was on at Te Papa in Wellington before a three week run in Hamilton earlier this year.

The exhibition features over 50 large-scale Lego monuments including the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Golden Gate Bridge, Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Arc de Triomphe, the Titanic, and many more.

There is plenty of interactive stations where kids (and ‘big kids at heart’) can build their own models to add to the exhibit.

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Interactive Stations

McNaught and his team spent 4,944 hours and used over two million bricks, weighing five tons to build these amazing LEGO® masterpieces.

There is also a pop-up LEGO® store in the special exhibitions hall foyer.

The exhibition is on for one more week at the Auckland War Memorial Museum before it closes on Sunday, May 13th.

On a side note the Let Me Myself – The Life Story of Anne Frank touring exhibition developed by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is also on at the Auckland War Memorial Museum until May 13th.

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STATUE OF LIBERTY – 8,820 pieces; 43 hours to build

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BIG BEN – 18,437 pieces; 94 hours to build

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NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS – 9,532 pieces; 65 hours to build

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ARC DE TRIOMPHE – 30,000 pieces; 170 hours to build

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SINKING TITANIC – 133,900 pieces; 240 hours to build

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GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE – 27,268 pieces; 125 hours to build

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TAJ MAHAL – 55,000 pieces; 128 hours to build

Sculpture in the Gardens

Sculpture in the Gardens is an annual outdoor sculpture exhibition at the Auckland Botanic Gardens.

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Bev Goodwin & Jeff Thomson | twist…bob…spin

There are 20 sculptures dotted along a 2km trial throughout the gardens. There are also 21 permanent sculptures located around the gardens.

The temporary artworks are for sale and pricing is listed on signage by the artwork.

Pick up a map from the Visitor Centre, which provides descriptions of the artworks, including the medium used.

Sculpture in the Gardens is on until 25 February 2018. Auckland Botanic Gardens are at 102 Hill Road, Manurewa.

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Jamie Pickernell | Gull Boy

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Sam Duckor-Jones | Full length mirror

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Bryn Jones | Survey

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David Carson | Faux Topiary

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Lang Ea | POP! BANG! BOOM!

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Louise Purvis | Gravid

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Lucy Bucknall | Howling Together

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Graham Bennett | On Becoming Misdirected

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Jim Wheeler | Golden Bough (Revisited)

Wrights Water Gardens

Wrights Water Gardens is a private garden developed around the historic Mauku waterfall and quarry.

The gardens are located 128 Mauku Road, Patumahoe and are open October through May, Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 4:30pm. During the winter months (June to August) the gardens are only open weekends.

There is also a café, gift shop and nursery onsite. The gardens are a popular venue for weddings and private functions.

Adults are $12, Seniors $10, Children $6. Dogs on a leash are most welcome.

The Mauku waterfall and stream is the focal point of the gardens. Back in the 1800s there was a huge waterwheel located at top of the waterfall, which powered a nearby flax mill. This was dismantled in 1869, and the area became a popular picnic spot for locals.

Following the Second World War the land was turned into a rock quarry. After the quarry was abandoned the site was left unkempt with rubbish and weeds growing for the next forty years.

Mauku waterfall

Mauku waterfall

The quarry was developed into a 4 acre garden, which opened in 1992. Numerous pathways and bridges weave through this the magical garden.

The Hardy Waterlilies flower around September finishing late March. Tropical waterlilies start flowering in mid December finishing in May, and the Lotus start following in late December finishing in late February.

As well as the water gardens there are several special features including a wedding lawn, rock garden, boulder garden, Oriental garden, wishing well, and the Balinese Temple, a Buddhist temple.

The new owners of the gardens have also placed various sculptures and statues throughout the gardens.

Wedding Lawn

Wedding Lawn

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Balinese Temple

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The Kentish Hotel

The Kentish Hotel is a historic hotel, pub and restaurant in the historic township of Waiuku, south of Auckland.

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The hotel is located at number 5 Queen Street, Waiuku.

It was built in 1851 by Edward Constable. It was granted a liquor license in 1853, which means it has the honour of having the longest continuous liquor license in the country.

The hotel has hosted many dignitaries over the years, including the Māori King Te Whero Whero, Governor Sir George Grey, Prime Ministers Richard Seddon, Sir Joseph Ward and William Massey.

The Kentish survived a fire in Queen Street in 1926. While the fire destroyed a block of wooden buildings opposite, the hotel was saved by volunteers who hung wet sheets over the hotel’s façade.

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I stopped for lunch here a couple of Sundays ago and unfortunately it was a disappointing experience. The service was cold, impersonal and slow (in their defence they did have a party of 9 and 6 to be served ahead us). When the food did arrive the presentation was poor.

If in Waiuku definitely check out this historic building – maybe just have lunch elsewhere. Or maybe you will have a better experience – have you been to The Kentish Hotel before let me know in the comments what you thought.