Dame Kiri to be patron of Gisborne's War Memorial Theatre

Friday 30 September 2011, 9:23AM
By Gisborne District Council


Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has accepted an invitation from Mayor Meng Foon to be patron of Gisborne’s War Memorial Theatre. Plans to upgrade the aging theatre are reliant on a raising $6 million dollars from funders and the community.

It is great news that Dame Kiri has accepted this invitation says Mayor Foon. “I am very keen to see this project come to fruition. To raise the necessary funds we need a high profile patron. I thought why not go for the highest profile artist to come out of this district - arguably out of this country – Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.”

The request was made through her agent Paul Gleeson with the help of London based, soprano Claire Egan who is supported by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation. In accepting the position Dame Kiri said she was delighted to be invited to be patron of Gisborne’s War Memorial Theatre. “Over the years I have been involved with many organisations all around the world but to be honoured in this way with a wonderful Gisborne based project is very special. I have many happy memories of my early life in Gisborne and then later with the Waihirere Maori Club in London for my 50th birthday at the Millennium Concert.”

“Providing a community asset of this size and complexity will only be possible with considerable effort from the Gisborne community. I have reviewed the plans for the theatre and am sure it will be a catalyst to inspire young talented singers, actors and musicians to seriously consider careers in these art forms. I applaud the efforts of the Gisborne District Council getting the project to this stage and wish everybody my best wishes for a successful campaign to make this a first class theatre for all.”

Mayor Meng Foon believes the redeveloped theatre will be a wonderful asset for our talented community. “We are a place where talent is born and a place where talent thrives. Our theatre is a memorial to the war veterans of this district. It is widely used and loved by lots of different parts of our community – schools, families, dancers, actors, musicians. But it is in dire need of repair. If we have a better theatre with larger capacity we will get bigger and better shows coming to town. We will also have the right facility to develop and showcase the amazing talent we have in this district.”

As owners of the War Memorial Theatre Council will now enter into an agreement with Dame Kiri. Fundraising for the development will be launched at the end on November in conjunction with start of the Gisborne International Music Competition.

Dame Kiri is from Tairawhiti and has received world wide acclaim as an opera singer. In 1981 performed at the wedding of HRH Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in front of the largest television audience any singer has faced in history and became a dame in 1982. In 2004 she launched the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation to find imaginative and constructive ways to assist outstanding New Zealand singers with their international career development.