WORDS Joshua Brosnahan PHOTOS Rami Elsayed

Haere-roa, the new and keenly anticipated University of Canterbury Students’ Association building, opens this July. The old UCSA building, sited alongside the Avon River, had to be torn down as a result of the earthquakes and its absence left a big hole in the city’s cultural landscape.

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The new building has spaces for hospitality and events, student support and clubs, and meeting rooms. Like its famous predecessor, Haere-roa will be enjoyed by UC students and be available to the wider community.

A key space is the new Ngaio Marsh Theatre and Performance Space, a flexible facility able to host a crowd of 1000 standing or up to 320 seated. As well as student performances and gigs, it will be used by UCSA’s 150 affiliated clubs and societies.

The theatre created memorable experiences for generations of UC students, and the Association is looking forward to the new facility becoming just as important in the memories of UC students and Christchurch people.

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The UCSA has been fundraising for the past couple of years to make up a $5 million shortfall to complete Haere-roa. More than 440 donors have contributed $2.8 million to this effort, including leading Canterbury companies. The association is now offering the community the opportunity to “save” a seat in the new 320-seat Ngaio Marsh Theatre, by purchasing a seat for $500.

One famous supporter is Sam Neill (DCNZM OBE), recipient of a New Zealand Film Award, a Logie, three Golden Globe and two Primetime Emmy Award nominations. Sam says his time spent at the old Ngaio Marsh was important to his career: “...formative years on the stage of the Ngaio Marsh Theatre cemented my passion for acting and helped to forge my career path and I’m grateful to have had those experiences... I’m delighted students and the community will once again have a space to perform and nurture future careers.”

UCSA President Sam Brosnahan has enjoyed watching the construction. “We’re really excited to see the new Ngaio Marsh Theatre take shape as the building progresses. Now more than ever we need support to get the last of the development over the line, so that this amazing facility can be enjoyed by students and the wider community for generations to come.”

Haere-roa will also be made available to organisations and companies, with some bookings already in the diary. Local electronics developer and manufacturer, Tait Communications, will be the first major corporate to use the facility when they celebrate 50 years in business in July.

With the Ngaio Marsh Theatre and Performance Space and its retractable seating, coupled with a variety of other spaces, the building will be ideal for conferences, meetings, functions, and much more. These spaces are fitted out with state-of-the-art equipment, hospitality and catering facilities.

Haere-roa will open in July and booking enquiries can be made to

To Save A Seat in the new Ngaio Marsh Theatre, and play a key role in the fundraising for the UCSA’s new home, visit