A rural hall far from the wrecking ball

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Horahora Memorial Hall Project Team Members Selina Oliver and George Baxter with Treasurer Gina Williams.

MARK TAYLOR / Tips

Horahora Memorial Hall Project Team Members Selina Oliver and George Baxter with Treasurer Gina Williams.

The abandoned rural halls occasionally make the headlines, praising the relics of a bygone era.

This is not the case in Horahora.

Over a year of planning, building, painting and cleaning has brought Memorial Hall back to life in the Waikato community.

TOM LEE / STUFF

Another Waikato hall, the Ngarua Memorial Hall has fallen into disuse and is now awaiting the wrecking ball (video first posted in June 2020).

The renovation was one of 97 similar projects across the country that received a $ 12.5 million tranche from the Provincial Growth Fund to restore town halls and war memorials.

READ MORE:
* Pleasant Point Town Hall will be reverted to ‘the old glory’
* The government provides a grant of $ 400,000 for work in five rooms in the Tasman district
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The $ 239,000 Horahora project was one of the first to be completed since funding was provided about a year ago.

The room was reopened on June 26, marking the end of the first phase of the renovation.

Inside the renovated Horahora Memorial Hall, near the Waikato River, which will be used as a wedding venue, among other functions, to help generate own income.

MARK TAYLOR / Tips

Inside the renovated Horahora Memorial Hall, near the Waikato River, which will be used as a wedding venue, among other functions, to help generate own income.

Over the next few years, more work would be done to capture the history of the hall, firm up a calendar of events and landscaping.

Gina Williams, a fifth generation Horahora resident, was part of the renovation project team.

She said the final phase was to make the venue sustainable by attracting more lucrative sources of income, so that she could pay for it herself.

“We have already had a few inquiries about using the hall as a wedding venue, for birthdays and reunions, for running community programs around mental health and wellness.

“We’re about 20 minutes south of Cambridge and I’ve seen a lot of people come to town for their social connection.

“But now we have a fantastic venue for more people to meet more often, as well as to host these regular events.”

The hall was built in 1953 and moved from Oreipunga to Horahora a few miles from the Waikato River in 1974. It was owned by the Waipā District Council.

First phase of the renovation, including re-roofing, an extension of the entrance, acoustic baffles on the ceiling and improvements to the toilets and the kitchen.

Where possible, local shops and suppliers were used, and people helped the bees work to help manage costs.

“The whole community has supported this project for the past 12 months, and it’s exciting to see the first phase completed,” said Williams.

Williams, Baxter and Oliver just before the venue reopens on June 26.

MARK TAYLOR / Tips

Williams, Baxter and Oliver just before the venue reopens on June 26.

Federated Farmers Waikato President Jacqui Hahn said community halls are important, but it took a proactive community to keep them alive and the district is buzzing.

“Rural communities are often too busy to take some time to socialize, so getting together builds resilience in a community.

“It’s about getting to know your neighbors, creating a support network, areas that have lost their rural schools need this interaction even more.

A plaque retracing the history of the room and its renovation.

MARK TAYLOR / Tips

A plaque retracing the history of the room and its renovation.

Federated Farmers and FMG hired community halls to run rural crime prevention workshops, people used them to raise money to buy CCTV cameras and AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators).

“They are meeting places, for quiz nights, social meals, dancing, table tennis, bike rides, horseback riding, birthday and Christmas parties, weddings and birthdays .

“But the most important thing is to feel part of a community and to make friends, especially for newcomers to learn the special things about the quirks and the benefits of living in your neighborhood.”


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