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The Empress Theatre, formerly located on Te Kuiti's Rora Street, was the first provincial purpose-built cinema in New Zealand. Opened on 16th November 1913 the Empress was "The Premier Picture Palace of the Province". In its heyday Jack Hetet accompanied silent movies on the piano, and the Empress orchestra, under the leadership of Mr Branson, entertained audiences. Unable to accomodate the wide screen images of cinemascope the Empress closed its doors in 1953. In its final years the theatre became secondhand store "Stanley's New and Used" before its eventual demolition in 2004. (PHOTO: Te Kuiti and District Historical Society).

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Te Kuiti's Empress Theatre.