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Full steam ahead for rejuvenated Aurora Centre

Full steam ahead for rejuvenated Aurora Centre
The venue includes a large 700-seat auditorium, a meeting and functions room, dressing rooms and foyer area.

This year is getting off to an exciting start for Burnside High School and its wider community, with the finishing touches now being completed at the upgraded Aurora Centre.

A year ago, work to repair earthquake damage and weather tightness issues at the multi-purpose venue was in full swing.

The school had no option but to welcome its Year 9 students outdoors, but it’s a different story in 2019 with the Aurora Centre back in action in time to welcome its new intake.

It marks a real return to normality for the school and its community.

“The Aurora Centre was pretty much out of bounds between January and May last year,” says Burnside High School’s business manager Tom Music. “To be able to start the year with it ready to go means we’re a long way ahead.”

After the 2010/11 earthquakes, the centre was a real lifeboat for performing arts in the city. The minor earthquake damage it sustained did not compromise the building’s structural integrity.

Work to repair the damage got underway in late 2017. The state of the art venue is now in tip top shape, thanks to the school’s decision to also upgrade heating and air conditioning at the same time as repairs were being done.

It has been a complex project with a number of compliance requirements. However, the end is now in sight with the only visible work left to do being the exterior painting of the building.

“We hope that will all be done by the end of February so the scaffolding can then come down. It will really provide the visual cue and reassurance that the centre is fully operational again.”

In total, the project has cost just over $2m, funded by insurance, the school itself and a generous grant from the Rata Foundation.

“The Aurora Centre was officially opened in 2001 and was initially managed by a trust before the school took it over.

“It had just reached that stage where it needed some investment to bring it up to scratch; it has been a huge undertaking for both the school and our community.”

Hampton Jones Consultancy was the project manager for the upgrade, with the main builder being Watts & Hughes.

The venue includes a large 700-seat auditorium, a meeting and functions room, dressing rooms and foyer area. There is free off-street parking for 200 cars, making it a very easy to access destination.

As well as being Burnside High School’s assembly hall, the Aurora Centre provides school teaching space. On top of that, it remains a popular performance arts space for other schools and the wider community.

Events that are already booked for the centre in 2019 include the National Concerto Competition in March, shows by touring artists, various school and dance productions, and community events such as the annual Takumi Japanese Drum Concert.

Currently in the design phase for Burnside High School is a Ministry of Education funded $19.1m repair and redevelopment plan that will further shape the school’s future.

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