26 Sep 2020

Town halls and war memorials in line for $12.4m makeover

12:34 pm on 26 September 2020

The custodian of the Rahotu Town Hall in Taranaki says a Provincial Growth Fund grant of more than $210,000 will be a godsend for the 130-year-old building.

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The Rahotu hall is a focal point for a coastal Taranaki community. Photo: Supplied

The government has announced $12.4 million will be spent on upgrading town halls, war memorials and other landmarks around country, creating about 1000 jobs.

Maraea Waiwiri said the Rahotu hall was well supported by the community, but it was difficult for the hall committee to keep on top of maintenance.

"Hence the reason why this money is going to be so helpful in many ways with the upgrade and I think once we've got a good upgrade it will be easier to maintain."

Originally an army barracks in Opunake, the hall was moved to its current site in 1890.

Waiwiri said that it once hosted an annual grand ball and although those days had long since ceased, it was still a focal point for the coastal Taranaki community.

"It's actually well used in regard to Rahotu School and people use it for occasions such as birthday celebrations, weddings and funerals also, so to upgrade and keep it in a safe condition the grant means a heck of a lot for us."

Waiwiri said Rahotu Town Hall Society itself ran three annual events; a garage sale, quiz night and end-of-year party along with any number of carboot sales.

It's envisaged the upgrade of the hall will include painting of both internal and external surfaces, replacing worn cladding, installing new roof spouting and downpipes, replacing windows, building an accessible entrance way, replacing heaters and installing a new hot water boiler.

Another eight community halls have been earmarked for renovation and refurbishment in the Stratford District at a cost of almost $400,000.

Stratford District Mayor Neil Volzke said the district's halls and facilities were hugely important to our community.

"This funding boost provides a considerable cost saving to the community in the upkeep of much treasured community assets, and puts local people in work," he said.

The projects in the Stratford district include:

  • Centennial Restrooms
  • War Memorial Centre
  • Tututawa Hall
  • Douglas Hall
  • Kohuratahi Hall
  • Hall of Remembrance
  • Whangamomona Hall
  • Makahu Hall
 Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones speaks to media during a press conference on Budget 2020 delivery day at Parliament May 14, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand.

Shane Jones Photo: Pool / Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said many town halls and war memorials had fallen into disrepair.

"People in the regions should have facilities and memorials they can be proud of and which reflect the communities they are in. This huge programme of works will ensure these facilities are in a good condition and fit for purpose. This will reap huge benefits and gives people renewed pride in where they live.

"At the same time jobs will be created for local tradies and contractors displaced by the economic impact of Covid-19. Although many of the jobs will be short-term, workers will typically be involved in a number of different projects in their region."

In total, 37 applications involving 97 individual projects have been approved across 14 regions.

Otago, the West Coast and Canterbury are the areas with the most projects approved - with an estimated 600 jobs being created across the three regions.

The other regions are Kāpiti Coast, Southland, Northland, Taranaki, Hawke's Bay, Top of the South, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Manawatū-Whanganui, Chatham Islands and Wairarapa.

Jones said applicants had to show that their project is important to the community, that they could start construction immediately, and the project would rapidly create jobs and income growth.

The money for the renovation of town halls and war memorials was earmarked in May as part of $600 million refocused on projects with more immediate jobs and economic benefits as part of the Covid-19 recovery.