About Whirinaki Whare Taonga » History
In 1969 the Upper Hutt Civic Centre opened to house the new council and the Civic Hall was opened in 1971. The hall was used for many different activities such as indoor bowls, roller skating, community celebrations, photographic exhibitions and youth concerts. This hall is now part of the Expressions complex and known as Riverstone Recreation.
In February 1993 the Upper Hutt Valley Community Arts Council presented a proposal to the Upper Hutt City Council for a local arts theatre and gallery.
The city council allocated money for a facility and in February 1994 established the Upper Hutt Community Arts Centre Trust.
The Trust developed a comprehensive brief in conjunction with theatre consultant Dorita Hannah. Architecture+ was engaged as architect and, with the Trust’s team, liaised with local groups to develop a design for the Fergusson Drive site.
In 1998 the Trust presented its proposal to council for a combined visual and performing arts facility at a cost of around $5.5m. Consultants were engaged to carry out an audit of the submission, followed by a feasibility study on the proposal.
In 1999 the council, reviewing progress, considered several options including standalone gallery sites and a theatre with reduced specifications. The best option - providing a quality facility at an affordable price - was to redevelop the Civic Hall into a flexible performance/exhibition space plus an art gallery.
Building started on Expressions in 2002 and finished at the end of August 2003 in time for the official opening on 1 September.