Record­ing his­tory

Learn­ing more about Te Awa­mutu’s his­toric build­ings

Te Awamutu Courier - - Front Page - BY DEAN TAY­LOR

The Com­mer­cial Ho­tel opened its doors to past staff and mem­bers of the Te Awa­mutu Ge­neal­ogy Group re­cently, thanks to a fan of the pub want­ing to learn more about the build­ing.

Mau­reen Brain (of­fice), Basil Rum­bles (whole­sale) and Brian Clarke (bar­man) worked to­gether dur­ing the 1980s and 90s.

They joined Te Awa­mutu Ge­neal­ogy Group con­venor San­dra Met­calfe and group mem­ber Alan Hall at the ho­tel and were given a tour of the ren­o­vated bar and restau­rant by duty man­ager An­gus Arora, and looked at the up­stairs ac­com­mo­da­tion which is next for restora­tion.

The for­mer staff and vis­i­tors were im­pressed by the level of work­man­ship in the bar and restau­rant. Mau­reen, Brian and Basil were also able to shed some light on the lay­out of the ho­tel dur­ing their ten­ure and how the busi­ness was op­er­ated.

The Com­mer­cial Ho­tel was one of Te Awa­mutu’s iconic art deco build­ings fea­tured as part of the ge­neal­ogy group’s Build­ing Social His­tory Project last year. That cul­mi­nated in a dis­play at the Te Awa­mutu Li­brary in Novem­ber.

Meet­ing for­mer staff on site of one of those build­ings, and look­ing both back and to the fu­ture is ex­cit­ing for the group.

San­dra is hoping other build­ing own­ers will use their ini­tia­tive and ex­pand on the ge­neal­ogy group’s project by open­ing the doors on some of the other his­toric build­ings in town.

She says the proposed tour of The Com­mer­cial Ho­tel later in the year is a prime ex­am­ple of what could be achieved with the co­op­er­a­tion of build­ing/busi­ness own­ers and vol­un­teers.

Be­fore ren­o­va­tions start to the up­stairs part of the ho­tel, San­dra hopes to get ac­cess to take pho­to­graphs of orig­i­nal art deco features. These images could form part of a vis­ual dis­play in the ho­tel bar and be an ex­cit­ing ex­ten­sion to the ge­neal­ogy group’s next her­itage build­ing dis­play in Novem­ber.

The main fo­cus for the group is on re­search­ing the social his­tory of key build­ings with the aim of reignit­ing an in­ter­est in Te Awa­mutu’s built her­itage and the changes that have taken place over the last eight decades.

“The rea­son so many of our cur­rent her­itage build­ings were con­structed dur­ing the 1920s and 1930s was be­cause of a build­ing down­turn in the larger cities,” says San­dra.

“Ar­chi­tects and trades­men of­ten moved to other towns to find work.

“Al­though the build­ing de­sign­ers and main con­trac­tors were usu­ally from out­side Te Awa­mutu, sev­eral of the sub­con­trac­tors were lo­cal busi­nesses.

“The com­mer­cial build­ings fea­tured in the dis­play were the cat­a­lyst for many lo­cal firms to grow their busi­ness, even­tu­ally be­com­ing ma­jor em­ploy­ers in the town.”

San­dra says Te Awa­mutu has a her­itage to be proud of — and hopes peo­ple will take the op­por­tu­nity to share their knowl­edge and their build­ings as the group con­tin­ues the next stage of the project.

“We are only a small team and the project is huge. We are al­ways in­ter­ested in hear­ing from peo­ple who want to be in­volved, es­pe­cially if they have skills in the ar­eas of re­search, pho­tog­ra­phy and record­ing oral his­to­ries.”

To find out more, share mem­o­ries or be part of the project con­tact teawa­mutu@ge­neal­ or 021 206 9119.


COM­MER­CIAL Ho­tel duty man­ager An­gus Arora (stand­ing) hosted for­mer staff Mau­reen Brain (of­fice — cen­tre) and her hus­band Les (right), Brian Clarke (bar­man — third from right) and Basil Rum­bles (whole­sale — sec­ond from right) and Te Awa­mutu Ge­neal­ogy Group mem­bers Alan Hall and San­dra Met­calfe (seated left) at the ren­o­vated bar and restau­rant.

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