On Monday night we were joined by nearly 70 friends, family and special guests to officially name the indoor theatre at The PumpHouse the Genevieve Becroft Auditorium.
Genevieve was one of the key people involved in the rescue, renovation and redevelopment of the historic pumping station into a theatre in the 60’s and 70’s, and has been a prominent Takapuna arts patron and advocate for North Shore artists.
Chair of the North Shore Theatre and Arts Trust, Peter Burn, says it was a fitting tribute for all that Genevieve and her family have given over the years.
Speaking after unveiling the commemorative plaque, Genevieve paid tribute to the many others who were part of The PumpHouse story, describing The PumpHouse as the best place on the North Shore that people are truly excited to discover.
Genevieve’s children, Chester, Tabitha and Gabrielle joined her for the event – sharing fond memories of their childhoods spent at numerous PumpHouse working bees and fundraising events.
The commemorative plaque is on display in the PumpHouse Foyer, and you’ll see the “Becroft Auditorium” name appear on tickets and our website into the future.
(You can see more photos from Monday’s event on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/thepumphouse)
Who is Genevieve Becroft?
After moving to Auckland from Hamilton as a teenager, Genevieve trained as a kindergarten teacher and met her husband David Becroft, a paediatric pathologist. They travelled to US where David undertook cancer research in Boston and Genevieve assisted at the YMCA with migrant families in the three years they were there.
It was in the US city of Cincinnati that Genevieve saw an old building being restored and converted into a theatre – this gave her the impetus to be part of the movement to save the pump house.
Upon their return to New Zealand, the couple settled in Takapuna where Genevieve became a strong advocate for many social causes and an active part of the community.
She was a strong advocate for the building of a Children’s Hospital in Auckland (now known as Starship), was involved in PTAs and school committees and was an active member of North Shore Hospice, Riding for the Disabled, Forest and Bird and involved in forming the local Marae.
It was in 1962 that she got involved with saving the pump house.
The derelict building was set to be demolished, but a group of concerned locals, including current Local Board member Jan O’Connor, former North Shore Mayor Wyn Hoadley, writer Peg Escott, and local residents Maureen and Dick Williams, were determined to advocate for the building to be saved, and converted into an arts centre.
In 1969 council took a vote, narrowly agreeing to save the iconic building.
With limited finances the team held many fairs, picnics and fundraisers. They not only rolled up their sleeves and got busy with hammers and paint brushes, their voices kept the arts top of mind at Council, in the media and in the Takapuna community generally.
In 1977 performances began in the theatre now named in Genevieve’s honour.
As part of their active community involvement, in 1996 David and Genevieve formed a charitable foundation to assist with community projects. This foundation continues today and has made significant contributions to many charities, The PumpHouse included.
In 2001 Genevieve received a Queen’s Service Medal for her services to the community. She continues to support many local charities with her time and through the David and Genevieve Becroft Foundation. Each year 100’s of children at low decile schools are able to attend performances by Tim Bray Productions thanks to the Becroft Foundation’s contribution to the Gift-a-Seat programme.
We are very fortunate to have benefited from Genevieve’s vision, tenacity, influence and dedication to making The PumpHouse Theatre a reality for our own and future generations to enjoy.