On a Saturday Night: Community Halls of Small-Town New Zealand - reviewby gabeatkinson
A record of memories and photographs of the community focal points from a bygone era.
A few are modern and fully equipped, others are the ramshackle reminders of a more spartan era. Halls with modern chairs and kitchens are outnumbered by those rejoicing in mismatched cast-off furniture, Pinex ceilings and the ubiquitous whistling Zip water heater. A handful still house faded shelves of the community’s original lending library. A couple – the classically Italianate Gaiety in Akaroa and the refurbished bags-of-swank Waipawa Town Hall in Hawke’s Bay – are in an aspirational class of their own.
Some halls are now shut up, or converted to barns or holiday homes; their communities dwindling as rural employees commute from towns, or vanished along with the extractive industries that spawned them. At first sight a somewhat thin topic for a book, but give it a go and you’ll warm to it.
ON A SATURDAY NIGHT: COMMUNITY HALLS OF SMALL-TOWN NEW ZEALAND, by Michele Frey and Sara Newman, photographs by John Maillard and John O’Malley (CUP, $45).
Dale Williams is a writer and editor.
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