Iconic ‘tin hall’ era passes at Oko­roire

Matamata Chronicle - - Sports Awards - By NICKI DAVIDSON

There is al­ways a touch of nostal­gia when you farewell a district icon. Since 1925 Oko­roire’s ‘‘tin hall’’ has been the hub of the small com­mu­nity, host­ing ev­ery­thing from boxing to balls.

How­ever, on Novem­ber 13 it held its fi­nal func­tion af­ter the South Waikato District Coun­cil an­nounced it was ten­der­ing the re­moval or de­mo­li­tion of the hall and the sale of the land.

‘‘Now and then’’ ball or­gan­iser Gilly Alexan­der said it was the most ap­pro­pri­ate way to see off a venue that had wit­nessed so many mo­ments in the area’s his­tory.

‘‘There used to be balls there years ago, it was a reg­u­lar thing. In 2002 we had a 50th an­niver­sary of the Set­tlers ball there and it went re­ally well,’’ Mrs Alexan­der said.

‘‘Since the hall was go­ing we thought it was fit­ting that a ball was the last event.’’

Dar­ryl Good­win, who has lived at Oko­roire all his life, re­mem­bered past balls well say­ing about 200 peo­ple would at­tend.

‘‘The tick­ets were sold to the com­mu­nity first then the pub­lic,’’ he said.

‘‘There used to be fights for them – on the Mon­day morn­ing tick­ets would be avail­able from Nora Martel­letti’s house and there would be queues.’’

Oko­roire Hall has also hosted sports in­clud­ing ta­ble ten­nis, indoor bowls, boxing, ju-jitsu and gym­nas­tics, ac­tiv­i­ties which peaked in pop­u­lar­ity in the 1960s.

‘‘The hall would be chocka block. You can still see where the gym­nas­tics ap­pa­ra­tus was sus­pended from if you know where to look,’’ Mr Good­win said.

How­ever, use has steadily de­clined over the past few decades and coun­cil spokes­woman Kerry Fabrie said that was the main rea­son be­hind the move.

‘‘The hall was sim­ply not be­ing used enough and the up­keep was not cost ef­fec­tive largely due to the fact that there are two com­mu­ni­ties (Ta­papa and Oko­roire) both with their own hall and both ru­ral, fairly close to­gether and fairly small com­mu­ni­ties.’’

A num­ber of op­tions were in­ves­ti­gated, in­clud­ing re­lo­cat­ing ei­ther the Ta­papa or Oko­roire halls and sell­ing the other, how­ever the cost proved pro­hib­i­tive. Af­ter ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion it was de­cided to re­tain the Ta­papa Hall and re­move the Oko­roire one.

‘‘The cost of the one hall is now met by all the res­i­dents in both com­mu­ni­ties, ef­fec­tively re­duc­ing the cost to those in­di­vid­ual ratepay­ers,’’ said Mrs Fabrie.

Calls for ten­ders closed last Thurs­day, they would be as­sessed and a de­ci­sion made by the end of the year.

Mr Good­win be­lieved the right de­ci­sion had been made.

‘‘There are a whole lot of rea­sons why some­thing needed to be done, the lack of use, the van­dal­ism and the tag­ging,’’ he said. ‘‘But there’ll be a bit of feel­ing, it’s an icon and there are a lot of fond mem­o­ries, no doubt about that.’’

End of an era: Oko­roire res­i­dent Dar­ryl Good­win has many fond mem­o­ries of oc­ca­sions at the ‘‘tin hall’’. It will be de­mol­ished or re­moved in the near fu­ture.

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