Historic Opio Hall in western Southland has been sold

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Opio Public Hall Society committee members Trish Greer, left, and Karen Blomfield hold some minutes, accounts and ledger books for the hall's activities since 1952.

Jamie Searle/Stuff

Opio Public Hall Society committee members Trish Greer, left, and Karen Blomfield hold some minutes, accounts and ledger books for the hall’s activities since 1952.

The historic Opio Hall has been sold and the sale proceeds will go back into its western Southland community.

Opio Public Hall Society committee member Trish Greer said dance euchre evenings and functions to welcome people to the area or to farewell those leaving were some activities held there from the 1950s to 2000.

However, the hall has had little use in the past 20 years.

Greer remembers the hall in its heyday.

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“There were some fantastic dances … the hall was a community hub.”

The Hard-Up Dance was memorable, Greer said.

It was a fun event to lift the spirits of locals during the recession in the 1970s. Some attendees wore sacks.

The hall was also used as a gymnasium, voting booth and for table tennis and badminton.

It was one of three venues in the district for playing cards on a regular basis, the other two were at Aparima and Wrey’s Bush.

Phil Whitcomb, of Nightcaps, has bought the hall and its accompanying four hectares off the Opio Public Hall Society Inc.

Greer and fellow society committee members, Karen Blomfield and Karen van Miltenburg, said sale proceeds would soon be put into the district’s emergency and health services, education providers, sporting clubs and community facilities.

Teachers and school committee members at the Opio School's Golden Jubilee in 1938. The school building became the Opio Hall in 1948.

Supplied

Teachers and school committee members at the Opio School’s Golden Jubilee in 1938. The school building became the Opio Hall in 1948.

Afterwards, the society will be dissolved.

The hall was originally a school. It opened as the Wairio North School in 1888 and changed to the Opio School in 1894.

The school closed in 1938, resulting in the education board setting up a management committee to be in charge of the building and its accompanying four hectares.

The society was formed about 1948 after a group of Opio residents together bought the hall and the four hectares for $155.

The Opio Hall was a community hub in western Southland from the 1940s to 2000.

Jamie Searle/Stuff

The Opio Hall was a community hub in western Southland from the 1940s to 2000.

An entry into the management committee’s minutes book made Greer, Blomfield and van Miltenburg laugh.

Greer said the entry stated: “The ladies were to supply the supper for the dance but a motion by C Spillane, for those ladies to be given free tickets to the dance, was defeated.”

Opio residents used the building to celebrate the end of World War II in 1945, Greer said.

Since 2000 the hall has had little use and the last event there was probably a Christmas party in 2012-13, van Miltenburg said.

Blomfield said people had become busier in their lives and there was more entertainment options to choose from, compared to 30-40 years ago.

Greer summed it up: “The need in the community for the little hall has died.”



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