Topic: Living Pictures in Tauranga

Topic type:

Located in Harington Street, the Theatre Royal was the first theatre in Tauranga to show ‘living pictures’.

Glass Plate Slide, The Regent Square glass plate theatre advertising slide: Aulsebrook's Xmas Pudding 

Located in Harington Street, the Theatre Royal was the first theatre in Tauranga to show ‘living pictures’. The hall, built in 1866, had many uses before a number of travelling cinematograph companies, including Cooper & Macdermotts, came to town in the early 1900s. Some of the first films shown in Tauranga gave audiences a glimpse of Boer War troops, royalty, and Maori gathering at Rotorua.

With the popularity of film, a rival theatre soon emerged. The Opera House was located in Durham Street and by 1914 it had installed its own projector and was showing films with titles such as ‘The Drunken Motor Cyclist’ and ‘The Inlaid Floor Polisher’. The Opera House later changed its name to the ‘Civic Theatre’ and then ‘The San Francisco’.

In an interesting turn of events the local Borough Council became proprietors of a theatre in 1916. The newly constructed Town Hall promised residents a better class of entertainment. In fact, before any film was shown in the Town Hall it was watched by a Councillor to check its quality and suitability. In December 1929 the Regent Theatre in Spring Street opened. It was operated by Kerridge, as was the Town Hall by this stage.

So what happened to all these theatres? The Theatre Royal was demolished in 1967. The San Francisco building, previously The Opera House, was torn down in 1971. The Regent was demolished in 1985 and the Town Hall two years later in 1987. Fortunately the Tauranga Heritage Collection still holds some of Tauranga’s movie going history with over 2000 glass plate advertising slides, programme sheets, music cue sheets for silent movies, and hundreds of movie posters and stills.

Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion

Living Pictures in Tauranga


Year:1866
City:Tauranga, New Zealand