Karangahake School and District 70th Jubilee 1889-1959
On December 7, 1957, Karangahake was en fete for the official opening of its new hall. Over 400 people from as far afield as Auckland, Hamilton and Rotorua, gathered to celebrate the biggest community achievement since the mining period. The hall had been tastefully decorated with flowers to enhance and not detract from the very attractive contemporary colour scheme. Bunches of balloons added a festive air to the novel ceiling effect. From beginning to end the evening was one of healthy, happy enjoyment and friendly, sparkling conviviality. The official opening ceremony commenced with Mrs N. S. Donaldson's reading of the verse she wrote especially for this auspicious occasion, after which Mary Cotter presented the lady guest of honour, Mrs A. E. Kinsella, with a spray of pink carnations. Mr J. Cotter, chairman of the Hall Committee, welcomed the official party and traced the history of the building of the hall from the planting of the trees some 60 years ago on one of Karangahake's heights. He then announced that the oldest resident, Mrs Ritchie, was 83 years old that day and she was presented with a spray by Pauline Henry. Other speakers were Mr W. Crosbie, on behalf of the old identities, Mr W. H. S. Browne, riding member, and Mr H. R. Morrison, county chairman. Mr A. E. Kinsella, member for Hauraki, then officially opened the hall and he and his wife led off in the first waltz. The Havills' Orchestra, truly one of our most prized assets, did an excellent job throughout the evening and a delicious home-made supper was served by the local ladies.
But this is not the end of the story. This grand hall was not built as a War Memorial, so did not carry the £1 for £1 Government subsidy. It was built by the sweat and determination of the people of Karangahake and Mackaytown, who felt the need of a community centre. To raise initial funds socials were held in the school and that was when we first learned to value our Music Makers, who have always given their services free of charge. Many obstacles had to he overcome but finally, with the help of the Lands and Survey Department and the Mackaytown Domains Board, the project began to take definite shape. A site was chosen on the far bank of the Ohinemuri River with two main objects in view. First to keep clear of the busy main highway, but still be very accessible and central; and secondly, it was a site with ample parking space adjacent. In 1956 permission was granted to fell trees on local domain land and sufficient trees were felled to supply timber for the hall and some to sell to defray costs of milling.
February of 1957 saw the first foundations laid. To obtain further funds debentures were issued and several competitions took place, these earning over £200. A local contractor bulldozed the section, the Ohinemuri County Council gave the levels and the concrete foundations were laid. From that day on, or to be correct, every week-end from that date, Karangahake men were on the job. All labour was voluntary and very few men in the district had a spare week-end for 12 months. Gradually the building progressed until all could see what they had been striving for. This hall, which measures 42ft. by 60ft. contains every modern facility. The supper room is a delight to all the women, with its careful planning and labour saving equipment. Catching the eye is the contemporary colour scheme which was recommended by a specialist and carried out to great effect by the "working bees." The entrance is light and airy with its shades of white and fiesta yellow. In the main hall the lower portion of each wall has a very dignified appearance with varnished ply-wood showing attractive grained effects. The paint work includes such shades as daffodil, flame, white and mist blue. The four smaller rooms are in toning contemporary shadings and look most effective.
The estimated value of this hall exceeds £5,000 and it is with immense satisfaction that the people of Karangahake will soon be able to say "We owe nothing on our hall." The only finance used in this project, other than local contributions, proceeds of dances, donations, and debentures, is the amount of £300 generously granted by the Government. It is estimated that the local men of Karangahake, in their spare time, have given nearly £3,000 worth of labour.
This is one hall that will never leave Karangahake but will remain forever and a day to enhance the living and relaxation of the grand community-spirited people of this district.
- G. Nash.
[see also poem written to commemorate the opening of the hall - E]