The new Te Puna Memorial Hall officially opened in August 2020.
The former Hall was built in 1922 in memory of the Te Puna men who died on active service, and those who served and returned from World War One and World War Two. In 2016, it had to be demolished to make way for the new Te Puna Road/SH2 roundabout.
Four years later and the new building stands today, featuring a slightly larger footprint, with a larger kitchen, two meeting rooms, a supper room and archive room.
Located close to where the old Hall was, the new design will allow for population growth and for use by a range of community groups, from bowling and garden clubs to dance and fitness classes.
But the history of the former building has been carried through. The original plaques bearing the names of those from the district who served in the two World Wars are proudly mounted in the entrance foyer. Rimu timber retrieved from the wall joists of the original Hall has also been used to make two tables and a lectern, funded by a donation from the Te Puna Rugby Club.
George Butler, Te Puna Memorial Hall Committee Chairman, says the community has greatly missed its Hall in the past four years.
"Pressure of use meant that other, smaller, local facilities such as the school hall and the Quarry Gallery were choc-a-bloc with bookings. Many regular meeting groups, ranging from ante-natal classes and church congregations through to dancers and fitness clubs, had to find other places to meet.
"Bookings are already lining up for the new Hall. Having a large public meeting space, as well as smaller rooms to allow multiple uses at overlapping times. It is a great benefit to the Te Puna community."
While NZTA funded the building of the new Hall on a like-for-like basis, funds needed to be raised to cover the additional space.
The Te Puna Memorial Hall Society were delighted to receive $200,000 in funding from TECT back in May 2019.
George says the funding was crucial to the Committee's plans to make the new Hall future-proofed for twenty-first-century use.
"The Committee promised to raise nearly 16% of the total building cost in order to provide the additional meeting rooms, a larger stage and backstage area, and a larger foyer, than was going to be provided.
"The Committee had to find $241,500. Most of that came from TECT's funding grant of $200,000, which avoided the need for the Committee to invoke a Council-underwritten loan that was the backup plan. We are so incredibly grateful for TECT's funding; it has helped make this magnificent new facility possible."
TECT Trustee Peter Farmer says he is proud to see his local hall standing today after many years in the making.
"After several years without a hall, it is fantastic to see it standing today knowing TECT's contribution and the countless volunteer hours that have gone into it, have made it even better than before.
"Seeing such a significant project complete during this time, when spaces for us connect are more important than ever, should make us all feel proud. We are building a region that is stronger, full of all the facilities we need to keep active and engaged in our community, now and for generations to come."