British actress Dame Maggie Smith is to be the patron of a fundraising appeal to replace the damaged Court Theatre in Christchurch.
The theatre needs to raise $4.6 million for a new home, after its base of almost 40 years suffered extensive earthquake damage.
Chief executive Philip Aldridge says having an actress of such calibre as patron will be a huge boost, especially in attracting international support.
Dame Maggie Smith has been awarded five BAFTAs, two Academy awards and two Golden Globes during her long career.
Now in her 70s, the actress continues to play starring roles, the latest in the television drama Downton Abbey.
Mr Aldridge says Dame Maggie Smith is keen to visit New Zealand to lend her support in person.