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Matawai Public Hall

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The first Matawai Public Hall was opened in Matawai, Poverty Bay on 22 July 1910. The following reports from the Poverty Bay Herald describe meetings held to initiate building a hall in Matawai, progress on construction and the opening ceremony. The reports give considerable detail on the opening, including reference to family members. Henry Korte, with others, provided singing at the opening concert.


Herald Masthead

Volume XXXVI, Issue 12614, 4 December 1909, Page 7


A public meeting to discuss the erection of a hall in the district was held on Saturday night, November 20th. Before the meeting a large service was conducted by Rev. E. W. Walker, about 26 men being present. Mr J. B. Clark was unanimously voted to the chair. Mr Pigott was elected secretary. Messrs Hansen and Greene offered to give one acre of land for a site. A hearty vote of thanks was accorded to them and their offer accepted. A committee consisting of Messrs J. B. Clarke, J. E. Haisman, J. Pigott, A. Smith, and M. McKenzie was appointed to into all matters of detail and report to a future meeting.

Herald Masthead

Volume XXXVI, Issue 12029, 22 December 1909, Page 3


Matawai public hall. - A meeting to consider the report of the committee on this matter was held in Mr Mortleman's woolshed on Saturday night last. The Rev. E. W. Walker presided. The secretary read the report to the meeting, which advised the following things: "The main hall should be 10ft x 40ft, with a 30ft x 12ft lean-to attached, but partitioned off from the rest of the building. The lean-to should be divided into three rooms, but built with removable partitions, so that it could be used as one room for a school, etc., if required. The outside should be iron, and the inside match-lined and ceiled throughout. The outside woodwork to be painted, and all inside woodwork to receive two coats of oil or paint." The cost of such a building, the committee considered, would be £280, including land transfer, surveying, fencing, and clearing the section, and the erection of the building complete. Seventy-five pounds towards this has already been promised, and if £110 is collected, they consider the balance can be borrowed privately at a reasonable rate of interest. The building would have to be vested in three trustees, and three settlers would also have to act as guarantors for the borrowed money. In submitting this report to the meeting, Mr Pigott (secretary) moved the adoption of it, Mr J. B. Clarke, chairman of the committee, seconded the motion. The chairman of the meeting then invited free discussion on the subject, after which, on the motion being put to the meeting, it was carried unanimously. Messrs Abbotsford Smith, Murdock McKenzie, and J. B. Clarke then volunteered to act as trustees and guarantors for borrowed money. These three gentlemen, together with Messrs J. E. Haisman and J. Pigott, constitute the committee to he responsible for the erection of the building, and they particularly request that all moneys promised to the fund be paid in to either of them on or before January 1, 1910. They also invite further subscriptions from landowners and others interested in Matawai living outside the district.

Herald Masthead

Volume XXXVII, Issue 12116, 8 April 1910, Page 7



The survey of the site for this building has now been completed, and legal negotiations are now in hand for the transfer of the plot, and also for financing. All the iron is now on the spot and several loads of timber. The joinery has still to be carted from Waikohu railway station. Provided it is possible to get another fortnight's carting in, we can see no reason why the hall should not he completed in June. The work of leveling and fencing is also well in hand.

Herald Masthead

Volume XXXVII, Issue 12207, 25 July 1910, Page 2


June the 22nd will long be remembered in the "town of Matawai," long treasured in tho memories of the visitors as a day marking an epoch in the history of the development of the Motu Valley. It was the day that the new hall was declared open for public use — for religious, political, and social use. Rain had fallen most of the week, had fallen most of "the day" yet as night closed in horsemen and horsewomen kept arriving in the "town," singly and in groups, some from the Motu township, some from Rakauroa, some from Tahora, one, the chairman, from Karaka. All, besmattered with mud, all with undaunted courage had braved the elements to join in an event which many can prophesy will alter the lives of all dwellers within riding distance of Matawai, and I can congratulate myself that it was my good fortune to be present to see the efforts of the Motu Valley Settlers' Association crystallised into fact. The Association has to be congratulated on being the possessors of one of the most beautiful halls in Poverty Bay. Never shall a fern, a flower, nor a leaf be required to adorn the beauty of its interior. The whole of the walls and ceiling are of oiled rimu most beautifully grained, speaking eloquently of the undeveloped wealth lying dormant in the district, and on this night exhibiting the artistic sense of the Association that this beauty was unadorned. To add pleasure to the occasion, the Association had arranged a concert, an excellent supper, and a dance. The proceedings were opened with the concert, contrary to the usual custom, the chairman, however, making a break in a lengthy programme when half way through to declare the hall open. The Rev. Roberts, who was chairman, by request, in a few choice, well selected words, declared the hall open for religious, political, and social use, putting the social aspect last, notwithstanding a hint from the ladies that dancing was to be the principal event of the evening. He pointed out the need for religious life no man can be of any use unless he be developed spiritually and physically, and the hall would be a potent factor in developing the religions qualities. The utility, of the hall in enabling the young men of the district to undergo their training as part of the national defense forces was also dwelt upon. Its necessity as a place where men may debate political questions, meet and corral politicians, was pointed out. Curiously, not a member of the Association spoke, wisely leaving their effort to speak for itself. The concert was greatly enjoyed, the audience, until remonstrated with by the chairman, endeavoring to add encore to encore to a somewhat lengthy programme. Mrs Ridddick opened and closed the concert with pianoforte solos, for which the audience attested their delight by heartily applauding. The gem of the evening was Mr A. Blair's rendering of "Plymouth Ho." Mr Blair has a bass voice, well trained, which was much appreciated by the audience. Miss Neverman, who was charmingly gowned, was also heard to great advantage in ''Sleep and Forget," and also with Mr Korte gave a most pleasing rendering of "Life's Dream is O'er." Amongst the humorous items, Mr Abbotsford recitation of "What would make Carnegie sigh" was one altogether above the average. Dancing was kept up with great vigor till 4 a.m.

Herald Masthead

Volume XXXVII, Issue 12209, 27 July 1910, Page 2



Our 'Matawai correspondent sends us some particulars in addition to those published on Monday, of the ceremonies connected with the opening of the new hall in that township. He writes:

"What a terrible day for the opening." were the first thoughts and the first words of every one in Matawai when they awoke to the sound of the pouring rain on the morning of the 22nd. The officials were bombarded with questions of the nature "What are you going to do?" "Wouldn't it be much better to put it off?" "Are you going to have it?" "You'll have it won't you, and get it over." But they kept a brave front throughout and decided to make no alterations, though some of them were inclined to be a little pessimistic. The result however fully justified their decision, and the day will long be remembered as a "red letter "day" in the history of the "town of Matawai." Ladies came in the morning to cut up sandwiches, gentlemen to put the finishing touches on the hall. They went home and came back again at night, still enthusiastic and undeterred by the weather, though it rained "cats and dogs." Visitors arrived from all quarters, through the Motu bush, through the Rakauroa mud, through short cuts and long cuts, walking, riding, driving, tumbling into creeks, plunging through bogs they got to Matawai somehow, and all seemed to arrive with the Matawai spirit and with a smile on their faces. The doors opened for the concert at 7 p.m., but it was not till about 8 o'clock that the Rev. W. H. Roberts, who had been asked to preside, opened the proceedings. In a few words he congratulated the people on the building they, had put up, but said he would say more later on in the evening. He then announced the opening overture. Songs then followed by Mr Clarke (Mrs Clarke accompanying) and Miss Neverman, both of which were loudly encored. Mr J. McKenzie then followed with a recitation, after which Mr Hy. Korte took the platform and gave another song, which was also encored. But at this stage of the proceedings the Chairman had to draw attention to the fact that if the audience encored every item on the programme it would be all concert and no dance. Songs then followed by Mrs Cummings (Mrs Clarke accompanying), Mr T. Grace and Mr A. Blair. It was easily seen that the audience were "out for the night, and bent on having a "good time." Encore followed encore. Miss Neverman and Mr Henry Korte sang an excellent duet. Mr Abbotsford Smith brought the house down with his recitation "The Town of Matawai." Mrs Cummings sang another song, which was again encored. About half-time the Chairman took the opportunity of again addressing the audience and referred to the three great uses the hall should be put to— religious, political, and social. He said he put religious first because it was the most important. We wanted a place where we could meet together for public worship, and we had got it. We wanted a place where we could hold political meetings, and we had got that. We wanted a place where we could hold social gatherings, and we had also got that. He invited them all to come to the first service to be held in the building, and then concluded. After the concert, supper, which was provided by the ladies and bachelors of the district, was handed round. The room was then cleared for dancing, which was kept up until daylight on Saturday morning. Cards were played by the non-dancers in one of the adjoining rooms. A second supper was handed round about 2.30 a.m. The sum of £15 11s was taken, and after paying expenses the treasurer was able to place to the credit of the Matawai Public Hall the sum of £13 15s.

On Saturday a lot of men came to clean up and in the afternoon the first meeting of the Matawai Public Hall Committee in the new building was held. On Sunday the first service was held in the building, Rev. W. H. Roberts, conducting it, assisted by Mr Pigott (lay reader). There was a large and representative congregation, and all joined heartily in the singing of the hymns. Miss Neverman kindly officiated at the piano. Mr Roberts preached an appropriate sermon. After service the men took the piano back to Mrs Neal, who had lent it for the opening ceremony and kindly let it remain for Sunday's service. The first Sunday school in the building was taken by Mr Pigott also immediately after the service.

On Monday the people, acting under a suggestion of Mrs Burgess, and being determined to keep "the ball rolling," held a "day out" for the children. About 20 turned up, besides 12 ladies and three gentlemen. A collection was made and about 18s raised, and then races for sixpences were started. Still enthusiastic and bent on fun, the ladies raced and then the married men.

On Tuesday Matawai goes back to work and it in hoped that wool classing classes will be started in the hall on that night.

The hall was built by Messrs Beets Bros., of Makaraka. Mr J. E. Haisman was the architect. The building is of iron, but lined and ceiled throughout. The main hall is 30 x 40, with a lean-to, 30 x 12, attached, subdivided into three rooms with movable partitions, which for everyday use will be used as a school. The building is well finished and a real advertisement of good workmanship for the contractors. The trustees are. Messrs J. B. Clarke (Chairman), M. McKenzie, and Abbotsford Smith, with Messrs Pigott (sec. and treasurer), and J. E. Haisman to form a committee.