Two halls built to last but left to ruin

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - MIKE BAIN

Com­mu­nity halls, built to serve the needs of rural peo­ple, are in dan­ger of ex­tinc­tion.

Tra­di­tion­ally, halls have been the pride of small com­mu­ni­ties, where many dances, gath­er­ings, cel­e­bra­tions and school ac­tiv­i­ties were held.

Some are fac­ing clo­sure as hall com­mit­tees and coun­cils eye up the costs of keep­ing them go­ing.

The Mata­mata-Pi­ako District Coun­cil is typ­i­cal of other coun­cils un­der con­stant strain to pro­vide ser­vices while curb­ing spend­ing.

At its April meet­ing, coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to di­vest its in­ter­est in two com­mu­nity halls in the district may mean the build­ings are re­moved or de­mol­ished.

The for­mer Ngarua Hall, 18kms north west of Mata­mata has sat va­cant since coun­cil de­com­mis­sioned it in 2005.

Five years on, a li­cence to oc­cupy the building un­til 2015 was granted to Nou Te Rorou Trust.

This is a char­i­ta­ble trust as­so­ci­ated with Te Wharekura o Te Rau Aroha.

The trust ap­proached coun­cil in 2015 with an in­ter­est in se­cur­ing ten­ure of the site to de­velop it fur­ther for school­re­lated pur­poses.

A meet­ing on site showed sev­eral is­sues.

It in­cluded black mould and sam­ples tested showed the po­ten­tial to pro­duce harm­ful toxins.

There were also var­i­ous elec­tri­cal and fire safety is­sues.

The school was in­formed for health and safety rea­sons, that the building was not to be used.

The school ad­vised coun­cil it had no in­ter­est in the ac­quir­ing the land for ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses.

The com­pre­hen­sive struc­tural work the hall needed would be costly.

There is no guar­an­tee of re­turn on the in­vest­ment.

So the coun­cil agreed to re­turn the building, which is on Crown land, to the Depart­ment of Conser- va­tion.

Less than 10kms fur­ther west is the Waitoa Hall, built and serv­ing its com­mu­nity since 1911.

It too, is in need of ex­ten­sive re­pairs.

The hall has a growing list of main­te­nance is­sues es­ti­mated to cost $67,000 in­clud­ing re-pil­ing and re­place­ment of the roof.

Funded by tar­geted rates, the hall is owned by the com­mu­nity but there has been lit­tle in­ter­est in its re­ten­tion.

The coun­cil agreed to de­com­mis­sion and re­move the hall. It would as­sist the Red Cross which uses the hall, to re­lo­cate.

MIKE BAIN

Left: The Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion will de­cide the fate of the Ngarua Hall. Above: Waitoa Hall was also in need of ma­jor re­pairs. A de­ci­sion has been made to re­move it.

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