The Kuaotunu Hall was built in the early 1890s, soon after gold was discovered in the area. For many years, this beautiful little hall has been at the heart of the Kuaotunu community - providing a space for local community activities and private functions.
Originally part of the Kuaotunu School, which was built in 1892, the hall (the old primers room) was donated back to thepeople of Kuaotunu for use as a hall in 1940. Since then it has been run and maintained by volunteers within the community.
This year, after a massive effort by the Kuaotunu Hall Committee, some much needed refurbishments have been able to be completed.
“Twenty odd years ago it was recognised that there were problems emerging with the floorboards,” says Carrie Parker, chairperson of the Kuaotunu Hall Committee. “Too much sanding over the years had left the tongue and groove joints badly damaged. Ten years later, the foundations were discovered to be rotten.
“Three years ago, our committee had a very successful fundraiser for a new rugby banner. The surplus funds raised were allocated as seed money to begin the process of the floor and foundation restoration.” This was an enormous undertaking. As an historically designated building, the intent was always to replace like for like and source re-used kauri for the original kauri floorboards, joists and bearers. But it proved to be a very difficult task to orchestrate.
Committee member, Jo Mullins came up with an idea and initiated contact with her husband’s cousin, who had provided milled swamp kauri for her own home in Kuaotunu.
Upon further investigation, this came to be a perfect solution. While the wood had never been used, it had all the features of the original floorboards. With a total of $20,000 received from Thames Coromandel District Council, $28,000 from Pub Charity and a further $14,000 raised by the committee, the tender process began.
Paul Sayers, the owner of Sayers Construction, was approached for the job and was more than happy to be involved. “It’s such an important, historical building,” says Paul, who, as is common when working on buildings of this age, endured numerous unexpected obstacles during the restoration process. “Personally, we’ve used it so many times over the years with the kids and attending functions, it was a great opportunity to support the local community.
“We had to straighten some of the walls, find ways to dry out the wood in the midst of winter and deal with some drainage issues. It’s all part of getting a job like this done, though. Now, there’s a good, strong, insulated floor which has been built to last.”
Carrie says they were able to use a portion of the new swamp kauri as a laminate over the more recent pine floorboards to the right of the hall’s main room. “It was a stroke of luck,” she says. “So now every part of the hall’s floor is covered in seamless, wide kauri floorboards.
“Our committee have worked tirelessly to raise money and organise a facelift to the hall, which was in desperate need of repair. We are delighted that most of the work is now complete and so very grateful for the generous support of our community and those who have given both their skills and their time.
“We’re looking forward to everyone being able to enjoy the space for many years to come.”
Currently being used for events as varied as yoga classes, weddings, the Kuaotunu Rudolf Steiner Kindergarten’s playgroup and public fundraisers and a craft group, the examples of the hall’s possible uses are many.
The enthusiastic members of the committee, who meet monthly to care for this important building and its various needs and responsibilities, are hoping to continue this tradition of creating a meeting place for all ages. Anyone interested in helping to continue the momentum, or book a function or event in the hall, should contact the committee at email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reproduced courtesy of the Mercury Bay Informer