Work set to begin on $32m NZ studio

An artists render of the studio soundstages.

A $NZD35 million ($AUD32 million) international film studio on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island is a step closer after receiving resource consent from the local municipality.

Located within a 1,000-acre property within the town of Te Awanga at Hawkes Bay, Parkhill Studios is being led by Auckland-based company No8 Studios Limited and its director Tony Keddy.

In a resource consent application lodged with Hastings District Council two years ago, the initial proposal for the 24-hectare greenfield development comprised two studio buildings, a double-story production building, a construction workshop, a catering cafe, parking in three separate areas, a 2.5-kilometre private road, and a helipad.

Independent commissioner Kit Littlejohn granted consent at the end of 2022, a decision that was appealed in Environmental Court, first by nearby farmer Andrew Caseley seeking clarification and amendment on the conditions attached to the consent, and then by No8 Studios in a bid to delete the condition limiting the hours of operation of the film studios.

According to NZ Herald, mediation between No8 Studios, Caseley, and Hastings District Council concluded last Thursday with the parties agreeing to various conditions for the project to commence, including issues such as the upgrade of Parkhill Road, improvements to intersections, limits on parking at the studio, operational noise and landscape planting and revegetation.

It’s been a long journey for Keddy, who first came up with the idea in 2019 after being encouraged to help improve New Zealand’s studio infrastructure by a leading Disney producer.

He told IF he hoped the studio would service mid-size productions with budgets “of about $US10 million”.

“We don’t want to overwhelm the local community,” he said.

“We want to be nice and gentle and develop a solid film base.”

In a statement, he thanked the wider community for their engagement and support, along with the Hastings District Council for its “efforts and strong support of this project”.

“We look forward to working with them across our next steps in constructing the studios and bringing film to this exceptional region,” he said.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the council was “incredibly excited that this new industry is coming to Hastings”.

“This new industry is a positive addition to our region’s economy, particularly at this time as we recover from Cyclone Gabrielle,” she said.

“It will bring employment and career pathway opportunities in cutting-edge technology. It will showcase Hastings and Hawkes Bay to New Zealand and the world. I very much look forward to seeing them develop the site and make their mark on the entertainment world from Hawkes Bay.”

No8 Studios is hoping to complete construction on the studios before the end of next year.