05 May, 2013

On a Saturday Night: Community Halls of Small-Town New Zealand by Michele Frey [Claire, Central City Library]

I've often driven through isolated little settlements in New Zealand where a glimpse of an old hall has reminded me that in earlier times these areas had thriving communities.

Fortunately, two people have travelled to 39 community halls in the North and South Islands and recorded the life and times of these little gems to share with the rest of us. Social history is bought to life with stories and photographs from the people who used, and often helped build, these halls. The large coloured photographs of the interiors as they are today are fabulous. The great thing is that many of these halls are in original condition.

Dances were held on polished rimu floors, bands played on the stages and ladies bought a plate for the suppers. Social occassions in bygone days included variety concerts, flower shows, balls, meetings, film and card evenings, victory parties at the end of the war and plays.

The culture of country communities has changed over the years and today  halls host exercise groups, bookclubs, Farmers Markets,  jumble sales and many other events.

I really enjoyed the memories of hall occassions shared by people who have spent a lifetime in these communities. "At one hall in Cambridge in 1974 a circus visited. The flame thrower was great. When they all went to go home at the end of the night there was no fuel in their cars. The circus man had siphoned it all off!"

Now when I drive past many of these halls I know a lot more about them and the important place they hold in a community.

Title: On a Saturday Night: Community Halls of Small-Town New Zealand
Editors: Michele Frey and Sara Newman ; with Anna Rogers; photographs by John Maillard and John O'Malley
ISBN: 9781927145371
Published: 2012
Publisher: Canterbury University Press

 - Claire, Central City Library

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