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Whakatuheratanga Nui | Grand Opening Gala Programme Announced

Electrical fusion of live music and performing arts to celebrate this mammoth milestone event for Rotorua - Tickets on sale now!


The time has arrived. The doors of Rotorua’s newly refurbished, renovated and earthquake strengthened Sir Howard Morrison Centre will be thrown open for a star-studded Grand Opening Gala event and weekend of celebrations in February 2023.


On 16 and 17 February, the venue will be opened to the public with a huge line-up of performers and musicians, both mana whenua and from across the motu, lifting the roof of the new venue in a dazzling multi-disciplinary show. 


The line-up includes Aotearoa soul legend Whirimako Black, powerhouse musicians Ria Hall and Anika Moa, Sir Howard’s son Howie Morrison Junior, Te Mauri Kapa Haka, opera singer Christian Thurston, reggae band Origin Roots, Rewa Ututaonga, Okareka Dance Company, circus sensations The Dust Palace, Thoroughly Modern Māori’s Rutene Spooner, Rotorua Musical Theatre, John Paul College choir, local performers Nikau Grace, Jasmine Hulton, Ellis Carrington and Krissy Knapp, Taiko Drumming, Rotorua Girls’ High School and Western Heights High School Hip Hop crews.


Rotorua-born celebrated choreographer and artistic director Taiaroa Royal (Te Arawa, Kai Tahu, Ngati Raukawa) will direct the Gala event and also choreograph a special dance work for the show which will be performed by young local artists.


Sir Howard Morrison Centre’s Performing Arts Director Janelle Bish says, “With the gala opening, we wanted to celebrate our immense local talent and present a spectacular showcase of arts and performance with guest artists visiting from across the North Island, all of whom have connections to the Morrison whānau and the Te Arawa region. This opening will demonstrate the multi-genre, collaborative community environment we hope to foster moving forward.”


Then, on Saturday 18 February, the venue will host a free to the public Rā a Whānau (whanau open day). All are welcome to enjoy relaxed performances, workshops, live music, and behind-the-scenes tours of this exciting new creative hub.


The Sir Howard Morrison Centre has conducted a dawn karakia, led by Mataia Keepa of Te Arawa. The event took place on Friday 18 November in preparation for the Lockwood New Zealand Aria Finals performed in the Sir Owen Glenn Theatre – Matangi Rau held the next day. The AMJAZZ Christmas Showcase will make a welcome return to the venue on Saturday 10 December for their end-of-year celebrations.

Published 29 Nov 2022