Te Puna residents are making plans for life after the current war memorial hall, after its committee tentatively agreed to sell the 92-year-old building and relocate to a modern version.
The New Zealand Transport Agency is currently awaiting funding approval to upgrade the Te Puna and Minden roads' State Highway 2 intersection with the roundabout – determined as the best solution to improve the safety of the busy intersection.
Te Puna Memorial Hall committee member Rosaleen Holmes, outside the hall on State Highway 2. Photo: Bruce Barnard.
However the proposed Te Puna roundabout requires the relocation or demolition of the Te Puna Memorial Hall.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council owns the 2000m2 of land on which the hall is located and the hall building, at 370m2, is owned by the community.
NZTA is acquiring the land under the Public Works Act and has been negotiating with council relating to the value of the land and hall and costs for relocation and land purchase.
WBOPDC Engineering Services group manager Gary Allis says the hall's committee has agreed to the sale of the hall to NZTA and is proposing a new community facility in the vicinity of Te Puna.
The replacement/relocation of the hall was consulted with the Te Puna community last year, receiving 149 written responses. The matter was then discussed at the hall's AGM in November.
Te Puna War Memorial Hall treasurer Rosaleen Holmes says nothing is set in stone, but following public consultation NZTA tabled two options for the building's future – move the existing building to a new site or build a new one.
Initially against plans to start from scratch and design a new building, Rosaleen now believes it will be the right move given the cost in relocating the old hall would have included bringing it up to all current Building Code requirements.
Rosaleen says: “This hall stood for 92 years and I was against getting rid of it, but then I saw in actual fact if they did try and retain the hall it would be a sticky plaster job. What we want is a hall for the community for a long time to come.”
She says no figure has been discussed but understands the indemnity value of the building could be between $500,000 and $600,000.
Historic and War Memorial components from the current hall will transfer to the new facility, ensuring the history and significance of the existing hall is not lost during the change.
The hall land was gifted by the Armstrong family as a memorial to those local men who served in the First World War and the hall was built in 1923 by voluntary community labour.
One of every three Te Puna men who served in the Great War never returned home.
In the meantime, the committee and WBOPDC are on the hunt for potential sites to house a new building, preferably in the current vicinity.
“What we hope is the new hall will be built and completed before the old hall has to be demolished,” says Rosaleen.
Gary says two sites are under consideration and the timing of the new roundabout is subject to NZTA funding approval.
He adds it is a high priority with the Bay of Plenty and a funding/timing discussion is expected in March. Once funding is committed the hall would need to be removed in the 6-12 month timeframe.
The hall committee, with council, will be undertaking an assessment and initial design of the replacement facility in the first quarter of 2015.
A NZTA spokesperson says a roundabout is still proposed and is currently awaiting funding approval.
“Once funding is approved we can proceed with property purchase and construction,” they said.