When life re­volved around Tawa Hall

Kapi-Mana News - - FLASHBACK - By MIKE STEER

For 25 years from 1933 un­til 1958, Tawa Hall was the cen­tre of the so­cial life of Tawa Flat.

Stephen Mexted bought the build­ing, which had been the recre­ation cen­tre for the men build­ing the rail­way tun­nels at Glen­side and Kai­wharawhara, and re­lo­cated it to Main Road, op­po­site Mexted Mo­tors.

The 300 res­i­dents of Tawa Flat joined in the grand open­ing on De­cem­ber 28, 1933, and from then the fa­cil­ity was in con­stant use.

Ev­ery per­son leav­ing to serve in World War II was farewelled from the hall and in 1946 there was a func­tion for the men who had re­turned safely. Fundrais­ing for the war ef­fort also oc­curred there.

Most pub­lic meet­ings and many wed­ding re­cep­tions were held in the hall and it played a role in the an­nual Anzac Day com­mem­o­ra­tions.

Clubs and as­so­ci­a­tions used its fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing the Women’s In­sti­tute and in­door bowls, ta­ble ten­nis, square danc­ing and 500 card clubs. The Tawa girls’ bas­ket­ball ( later netball) team, and the Tawa rugby club prac­tised there – ‘‘but it is hoped that a [rugby] ground will be pro­cured for prac­tice as soon as pos­si­ble,’’ re­ported Kapi-Mana News on April 28, 1950.

The Methodists ran flower shows and lo­cal churches held their fairs and fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in Tawa Hall.

Chil­dren’s events in­cluded the popular baby contest, the an­nual Plun­ket chil­dren’s fancy dress event, and the Methodists’ chil­dren’s show.

Danc­ing was very popular and many clubs and so­ci­eties held their an­nual balls in the hall.

War- time dancers in­cluded the Amer­i­can sol­diers sta­tioned in Takapu Val­ley.

Tawa Flat was ‘‘dry’’ in those days and ‘‘Soapy’’ Philips, the po­lice­man based in Johnsonville, would bike to Tawa Flat to en­sure the al­co­hol laws were ob­served.

How­ever, some pa­trons would hide their al­co­hol un­der trees and bushes, ready for later in the evening.

Some young char­ac­ters would try to find the grog and if suc­cess­ful would of­fer to sell it back to the own­ers!

Be­cause the stage was so small, it al­ways had to be ex­tended for the Tawa-Linden Drama So­ci­ety pro­duc­tions, so the lev­els were never even.

The ac­tors had to re­mem­ber that or they could be in trou­ble.

Of­ten an ac­tor would trip, lose his bal­ance and end up with a thump on the near­est chair. The au­di­ence thought it was part of the show.

Movie screen­ings were popular and ranged from Ti­tanic and The Cruel Sea to Ron­ald Rea­gan in Bed­time for Bonzo.

Pa­trons en­tered the

hall, bought their lol­lies and drinks at a ta­ble, ducked un­der the drop-down screen, sat on the very un­com­fort­able benches and en­dured the ear-split­ting sound as Eric Tapp pro­jected the films.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, the Em­press Cin­ema in Johnsonville was some­times seen as a bet­ter op­tion.

On Au­gust 6, 1958, KapiMana News car­ried a no­tice that the hall was closed for pub­lic book­ings.

With rapid pop­u­la­tion growth and the open­ing of the Re­turned Ser­vice­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion hall and Linden Com­mu­nity Cen­tre, the use of Tawa Hall and its limited fa­cil­i­ties had steadily de­clined.

Tawa Hall was even­tu­ally bought by Wardells and de­mol­ished to be­come the su­per­mar­ket’s car park.

Thus Tawa Hall passed into his­tory, but for many it had been the life and soul of the com­mu­nity.

Tawa His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety plans to publish the story of Tawa Hall in mid-2015. If you have mem­o­ries of the Tawa Hall, phone Michael Steer, 478 9716.

Photo: TAWA-LINDEN DRAMA SO­CI­ETY

Big at­trac­tion:

A per­for­mance of

Lady in Dan­ger

at Tawa Hall on Oc­to­ber 18, 1956.

Photo: BRIAN MEXTED

Early days: Tawa Hall in the 1940s.

Lots of fun: A list of pic­tures at Tawa Hall, as ad­ver­tised in Kapi-Mana News, Novem­ber 14, 1951.

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