One of New Zealand’s earliest memorial halls, built to commemorate soldiers who died in World War 1, while the war was still on, has been rebuilt and was officially opened last Friday.
The original Lakeside Soldiers Memorial Hall was built in 1917 and was for decades the social hub of the small Lakeside rural community. It was demolished after it was severely damaged in the 2010 earthquake.
The new hall, which replaces it, is a $1.67 million facility funded by the Selwyn District Council, insurance revenue from the old building and fundraising from the local community.
The hall has a ‘long room’ modelled on the famous Long Room at the Lords Cricket Ground in London. It can seat more than 100 people and opens up to a formal lawn and courtyard, which makes it ideal for indoor-outdoor functions such as weddings.
The opening event convener Alastair Barnett said the opening on Friday, February 1 attracted a crowd of more than 200, including local MP Amy Adams, Mayor Sam Broughton, councillors Pat McEvedy and Murray Lemon, Selwyn District Council CEO David Ward and representatives from Te Taumutu Runanga.
Many of the invited guests also attended an evening meal and social gathering that followed the official opening.
“The hall rebuild was a challenge and without the vision of the Selwyn District Council, the hard work of the Lakeside Community and support of groups such as the Ellesmere Lions Club it may not have happened,” Mr Barnett said.
He paid particular tribute to the architecture team from Architecture Workshop headed by Hamish McLachlin, a former Lakeside resident. CityCare was the building contractor, and Innate Landscape provided the landscape design carried out by Johnston Civil. Project management was by Inovo Projects.
The chair of the organising committee Dennis Carter said the hall would be a gathering point for the local and wider rural community.
“We see it as the foundation of a supportive environment where residents can engage with each other and be involved in the life of the local area.” Mr Carter said.
Mr Carter said the hall was in use immediately as the host venue on Saturday night for a 60th birthday party.