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Tudor Towers


Sat 5 Jul 2008–Sat 2 Aug 2008, 9:00am

Where: Rotorua Museum of Art and History, Queens Drive, Rotorua

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

A vibrant period in the history of Rotorua’s century-old Bath House is recaptured in an exhibition which opens on 5 July 2008.

Tudor Towers which operated in the historic building over 25 often tumultuous years, will return to life in a colourful multi-media installation. Stretching from 1965 to closure in 1990, the show traces the transition from restaurant to cabaret and finally to nightclub.

People from each era have been canvassed for images and stories of the time when a night at Tudor Towers meant fine food and international-standard entertainment. ‘I remember coming here . . . ’ is a refrain from present day visitors who recall good times with affection.

Influential acts from New Zealand and overseas performed beside the sunken dance-floor, and from 1974, on an outrageously kitsch multi-tiered faux-Tudor stage.

Designed by architect John Leary, the elaborate construction soared to the ceiling.

In 1966 a young Kiri Te Kanawa performed at Tudor Towers on the eve of her departure for Europe and international fame. High profile performers during the cabaret years of the 1970s included Tina Cross, Billy T James, Bunny Walters, John Rowles and Ardijah.

They were ably supported by local bands such as the Senators, and during the 1980s, the resident band Cairo inspired a cult following in their own right.

The end of Tudor Towers in 1990 was not graceful. Rotorua Museum of Art and History staff viewed the stained walls, dripping ceilings and broken sculptures and set about the long slow task of restoring the building. The removal of the dance floor in 1998 saw the building divested of the last remains of the curious hybrid that had once flamboyantly occupied the space.