When life revolved around Tawa Hall
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.
A performance of
Lady in Danger
at Tawa Hall on October 18, 1956.
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.