In conversations about this site, people often ask me the inevitable question: What is your favourite New Zealand cinema? I usually choose the Everybody's Theatre in the small South Taranaki town of Opunake. On other occasions, people report back to me about their own discovery of Everybody's, expressing their surprise at finding such a wonderful cinema in such a seemingly unlikely place.
But it has been there, in one way or another, since the 1920s. In recent years, it has had a new lease of life due to a very successful fundraising campaign, which enabled earthquake strengthening and a beautiful upgrade, together with the work of a band of dedicated local volunteers. What you will find at the Everybody's is a quite unique blend of classic cinema-going and local charm.
The next time you are through Taranaki, take the coastal route from Hawera to New Plymouth (Highway 45), stop in Opunake and discover this cinema for yourself.
January 2020 update: The Everybody's celebrates its 100th anniversary on February 20th, 2021. I will be there.
A friend sent me news of the second Paekakariki Film Festival, to be held in this Kapiti seaside town from July 26 to September 13 at 5.30 Sunday nights. The venue is the local St. Peter's Hall and film programming is being steered by Andrew Armitage, formerly of Aro Video in Wellington. For more information, visit www.paekakakariki.nz/event/paekakariki-film-festival
Geoff Lealand was an Assoc Prof in Screen and Media Studies at the University of Waikato from 1992 to 2017. Now retired (not a word he favours), he writes social history, maintains this site, its Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as going to the cinema at least twice weekly.