New name, new season for community theatre

Sumner Theatre Group has changed its name to Matuku Community Theatre, to reflect its new structure and new home in Matuku Takotako Sumner Centre.

The small local company has been putting on an annual fundraiser Cabaret Show for over 50 years, under the umbrella of Sumner Community Centre Incorporated.

"Our focus for the last two years has been on getting our theatre reinstalled within the hall of Matuku Takotako Sumner Centre, which has been a massive job for a group run entirely by volunteers," said President Sarah Mankelow.

"We managed to put on two successful shows in the new hall while uncertain if we would have curtains and lights hung in time," she said.

"Then lockdown meant that we cancelled our 2020 show season, but that has given us the breathing room to get our back-of-house in order."

The new community centre is now run by the Christchurch City Council. The functions of the group, which used to umbrella several organisations and manage the old community centre, has reduced to putting on its annual productions. The shows are sold to other community groups as fundraiser events.

The name - Matuku - is a Te Reo Māori name for bittern and herons, of which several species are seen in the wider bay area. It is also a link to the name of the building the company calls home - Matuku Takotako - which is the orginal Ngāi Tahu name for Sumner Beach.

"It was very important to the members of our group that we retain the word community in our new name, as that's what we are all about - creating, supporting and entertaining our community," said Sarah.

"And we also liked the idea of referencing local birds as we have an number of 'songbirds' in our company, while also acknowledging that many of our members are gathered from the wider community - not just Sumner."

"Our company's 2021 AGM is being held 14 March, and we welcome old and new members to join us to help shape our group and our show for 2021.”

For more information about the building's name Matuku Takotako Sumner Centre and other local names, go to the council libraries website.

Fun fact: The winner of the 2020 Bird of the Year was Matuku Moana - white-faced heron.

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