Historical Significance or Value: The Waverley Town Hall has considerable historical significance. It is the oldest of the more substantial and imposing town halls in Taranaki and across the adjoining districts of Wanganui and Rangitikei. Within this broad area, it is also the oldest purpose-built town hall that has not been extensively modified.
Aesthetic and Architectural Significance or Value: The Waverley Town Hall has value for its architectural and aesthetic qualities. It was constructed to house and reflect the activities and purposes of the community. It was given the facilities and qualities that were needed in a hall. As a town hall it was built to a considerable size with potential to accommodate community activities from small craft groups to whole-town gatherings. Its stately face to the street indicates the level of importance it was first given. It is perhaps surprising that the building occupies a side street location however it was built not by the town authorities but by citizens and its significance as a public building has come about through its wholehearted adoption as a civic building. The history, nature and age of the Waverley Town Hall create a sense of understanding of one hundred years of community life of Waverley, and thereby a New Zealand town, and how a building can be a part of that community.
Social and Cultural Significance or Value: From its opening the hall has been the focal point for social and cultural activity in Waverley and the surrounding district. Over the years it has also witnessed how outside events and influences such as war and the advent of television have impacted on the pattern of these activities.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history: The Waverley Town Hall typifies the role played by town halls in small and medium-sized New Zealand towns. It is one of the few surviving halls of the early 1900s that has not been extensively modified and as such is representative of its time and place.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history: The Waverley Town Hall is one of the very few buildings known to have been designed by J.E. Roe that is still standing in South Taranaki and very likely in New Zealand. Also the town hall was used as a hospital during the 1918 influenza pandemic and has been used for ANZAC commemorations since 1916.
(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place: F
or nigh on 100 years the Waverley community has regarded the hall as the hub of its social and cultural life. In the past local esteem for it was taken as axiomatic, so was rarely given outward expression.
Only in recent times when the hall's future has been in doubt has public esteem become more visible. The announcement that the South Taranaki District Council wanted to dispose of the hall and develop an alternative community space saw opinion in Waverley divided. But the Patea Community Board's endorsement of the council's proposal galvanised support for retaining the hall. This is evident in the mounting of a 'Save the Waverley Town Hall' petition by a group of local residents, and the number of people who signed the petition. This opposition has resulted in a vote by South Taranaki District Council to take the decision on the future of the Town Hall back to the community for further consultation and the formation of a committee with the goal of retaining the hall.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place: The size, shape and proportions of the various spaces of the entire building show an understanding of the requirements of the functions that would have taken place. The front entrance face of the building established the impressive importance the hall was designed to reflect in use. The hall is a simple structure, simply clad. The attributes of the body of the hall were centred on the use and usability of the interior spaces rather than to glorifying the exterior. While toilet services were not originally part of the building complex and were installed at a later date, the accommodations of activities were well designed. A generous, once well-equipped, stage faced a day lit hall of comfortable proportions. The balcony over symmetrical cloakrooms added functional spaces with a sense of elegance. The Supper Room was designed as an easily accessible adjunct to the hall. The building has the ability to accommodate large or small groups in different activities and reflects the activities it was successfully designed to accommodate.
(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place: The hall has particular value as a centre for activities and events of symbolic and commemorative significance. These include:
- meetings and working bees of the Waverley Ladies' Patriotic League during the First World War
- assembly point for ANZAC Day gatherings since 1916
- temporary epidemic hospital in the1918 Influenza epidemic
- assembly point for the Home Guard in the Second World War
- functions and meetings related to the war effort in the Second World War
- emergency hospital in the Second World War
- venue for Waverley School's 50th anniversary celebrations (1924) and 60th jubilee celebration (1934)
- main venue for Waverley School centenary (1973) and 125th anniversary celebrations (1998). For both events a large marquee was connected to the hall
- welfare distribution centre for the Waitotara district when devastating floods stuck the west coast of the lower North Island in February 2004
(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places: The Waverley Town Hall is a relatively rare example of an early 20th century town hall that has not been extensively modified.
Also unlike most town halls in towns the size of Waverley the town hall was not built by the local town board, instead it was built and privately owned by a dedicated local company for some 40 years before passing into public ownership under a succession of municipal authorities. It has also never housed, as many town halls have, the municipal offices.
The Waverley Town Hall was built by the people of Waverley and district to be a centre for the events and activities that enriched social and cultural life in the community. The hall has successfully fulfilled this purpose for nigh on 100 years.
In addition to its social and cultural importance, the hall has considerable value for its historical significance and its architectural and heritage qualities. It is one of the few known surviving examples of the architect J.E. Roe's work and the oldest of the purpose-built town halls that have not undergone extensive modification in Taranaki and across the adjoining districts of Wanganui and Rangitikei.
The hall is a local landmark. Its construction reflected people's confidence and pride in their town and district, and the hall has contributed enormously to the identity of the area. Public esteem for it remains high, as evidenced by the response to a locally initiated petition asking the South Taranaki District Council to reconsider a proposal to dispose of the hall and efforts by local community members to form a committee with the goal of retaining the hall.
The Waverley Town Hall is located in Waverley which was established as a military settlement called Wairoa in 1866. Waverley's military origins are evident in the symmetrical layout and names of the streets. Bear Street, where the Town Hall is situated, was named after Lt. John Bear, 10th Company, Taranaki Military Settlers.
Wairoa was sited on land confiscated from Ngati Ruanui under the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863. The way for European settlement was paved in January 1866 when two pa in the vicinity, Ototuku and Putahi, were destroyed by a force led by Maj. Gen. T. Chute. At Moturoa, near Ototuku, in November 1868 Ngati Ruanui leader Riwha Titokowaru achieved a notable victory over colonial forces under the command of Col. G.S. Whitmore.
The township's name was officially changed to Waverley on 7 February 1876. The measure was designed to distinguish the township from others with the same name, especially Wairoa in Hawke's Bay. Many of the township's early European settlers were from Scotland, and it seems they chose the name Waverley to commemorate Sir Walter Scott, whose novels had become known as the Waverley Novels.
Until 31 October 1876, the township was part of Wellington Province. Since then local government has been administered by a succession of different authorities. From late 1876 to March 1910, Patea County Council was the governing authority, although from September 1881 Waverley was a town district with its own town board. In 1910 Waverley became an independent town district, and in 1955 the town board became the Waverley Town Council. In 1987 Waverley Town Council merged with Patea Borough Council and Patea County Council to form Patea District Council. Under the major restructuring of local government in 1989, Patea District Council ceased to exist, and Patea District merged with adjoining northern districts to form the South Taranaki District. From this time, local government has been administered by the South Taranaki District Council (STDC).
Geography and economy
Waverley is situated on the fertile coastal lowlands that extend from the South Taranaki Bight to the Rangitikei River. It lies some eight kilometres from the coast and serves a well-established rural district known for a variety of farming enterprises, notably cattle, sheep, dairying, forestry and cropping. A major industry from 1971 to 1988 was the mining of ironsands on the coast at Waipipi for export to Japan. An important element of the operation was the rehabilitation of scrub-covered dunes into pasture, and a projected sale of coastal sections there is expected to benefit the local economy.
The Waverley district is also well known for the breeding and training of thoroughbred horses. One of its most famous horses was Kiwi, winner of the 1983 Melbourne Cup. Waverley Racing Club meetings were first held in 1879 and have always attracted people to the town. The annual Waverley A & P Show is another popular event.
At the 2006 census, Waverley's population stood at 861, down only marginally - by 42 - from the 2001 figure.
Waverley Town Hall
Development of the hall
The Waverley Town Hall was built in 1908 and was opened on 21 August that year. It was designed by Hawera architect J.E. (Joseph Edward) Roe and constructed by Waverley contractors Macfarlane and Price. The original plans have not been located, but an early photo showing the east elevation (front façade) and the north elevation (right side of the hall) is held at the Alexander Turnbull Library. There is also a detailed description of the layout and of materials used in the construction in a newspaper article on the opening of the hall. The completed building cost over £2,000.00.
The hall is the third town hall to be built in Waverley. The first was financed and built from public subscription and was officially opened in September 1871. This hall was in Weraroa Road, the main street, but was soon deemed too small and a new hall was built in 1879. The old hall continued to be used by various groups. It was eventually pulled down, and a fire station was built on the site. The second hall was owned and run by a town hall committee and seems to have been on the same site in Bear Street as the present hall. It was destroyed by fire around 1906, and before long moves were under way to have a new hall.
People in the town and district raised finance by taking up shares in a company known as the Waverley Town Hall Company. Little is known about this company, apart from the names of some of its directors, and no records pertaining to it have been located. The company owned and operated the hall from 1908 until 1 January 1948 when the Waverley Town Board took over 'the ownership and control of the Waverley Town Hall and its contracts and contents'. In 1987 ownership passed to the Patea District Council and in 1989 to the current owner, South Taranaki District Council.
In late March 2007, as part of plans to develop an alternative community space in Waverley, the South Taranaki District Council considered a proposal to dispose of the hall. However, in the face of local opposition to this proposal, including a petition to 'Save the Waverley Town Hall' mounted by a group of local residents that gathered over 200 signatures, South Taranaki District Council voted 7 -3 to take the decision on the future of the Town Hall back to the community for further consultation. With the goal of retaining the hall in mind, members of the local community are now in the process of organising a committee to consider how this might be done.
Use of hall
Over the years the hall has been used for a wide variety of activities and events. These have ranged from public meetings and civic receptions to concerts, plays, school functions, movie shows, balls and all manner of social gatherings.
In 1908 a 'Citizen's Ball' was held to mark the opening of the hall. Trains from the north and south brought people from along the coast and a party came by coach from Wanganui. Dancing continued until 4 o'clock in the morning.
In the hall's early years, people arrived for balls and other functions on horseback, changing into their finery in the dressing rooms and back into riding dress to go home.
Movies were shown every Saturday night from the 1910s to the mid-1970s. Many people had permanent bookings for seats in the gallery. When popular films were screened these people would be rung to see if they were attending. If they weren't, other people would immediately purchase the seats for the evening.
Visiting performers have included the renowned magician, juggler and entertainer 'The Great Benyon', and wrestling matches have featured world title-holder Pat O'Connor.
The hall was used as a temporary epidemic hospital during the influenza epidemic in late 1918 and was at the heart of activities associated with the local war effort during the two World Wars. Examples include meetings and working bees of the Waverley Ladies' Patriotic League during the First World War, as an assembly point for the Home Guard in the Second World War, functions and meetings related to the war effort in the Second World War, and as an emergency hospital in the Second World War (trialled but not utilised). It has also been the assembly point for ANZAC Day gatherings since 1916.
In more recent times it was used as the welfare distribution centre for the Waitotara district when devastating floods struck the west coast of the lower North Island in February 2004.
The hall was also the venue for Waverley School's 50th anniversary celebrations (1924) and 60th jubilee celebration (1934) and the main venue for the school's centenary (1973) and 125th anniversary celebrations (1998). For the latter events a large marquee was connected to the hall.
Changing social patterns have seen many of the clubs that regularly used the hall go into recess or actually fold. The biggest user, the Waverley Drama Club, has recently folded. The hall is nonetheless still used for community events, meetings, school performances and private functions.
Alterations/Maintenance of the hall
Minor decorative changes to the front façade and the addition of a new lean-to and small toilet are the only modifications to the exterior of the hall. The absence of the Town Hall Company records has made it virtually impossible to say when the two additions were carried out. It must, though, have been by at least the 1920s as none of the people spoken to in Waverley can remember the hall without the additions. The small toilet area has been added to the back of the building (north-west corner), and the lean-to, which contains the kitchen, is attached to the supper room.
Some modifications have been made to the central section at the upper level of the front façade. These involve the replacement of two original windows with the two doors that occupy this part of the façade, and the addition of the small balcony that runs in front of the doors. The construction of the balcony necessitated the removal of a small arch below the original windows. Because the doors and balcony provided the only access between the gallery and the projection box until the 1970s, it is highly likely that they date from when the box was constructed - probably around 1913. The original windows must, therefore, have been removed to make way for the doors, one of which was connected to the gallery and the other to the projection box, and the balcony was necessary to facilitate movement between the two doors. The demise of picture screenings in the 1970s saw spotlights installed in the box and an internal door inserted between it and the gallery.
Two very small, narrow windows from the men's cloakroom have been cut into the lower right section of the façade in front of the primary structure: one between the windows and one to the right of the window nearer the lean-to.
Other changes to the front façade include the removal of three obelisks: one from either end of the parapet at the upper level and one from the outer edge of the lower-level parapet in front of the principal lean-to structure of the supper room. Balusters have also been removed or blocked in at the centre of the lower parapet and at the centre sections of the upper-level parapet. Decorative brackets have been removed too from either side of the upper-level arch.
Modifications to the interior of the hall have also been minor. Apart from the modernising of the cloakrooms, these include the moving of the ticket box from the right to the left side of the entrance lobby in 1964; and the removal of the wall separating the third dressing room from the supper room in the 1970s to provide a little stage suitable for the needs of small gatherings.
The hall appears to have been under-maintained in recent years. Reports commissioned in late 2005 by the South Taranaki District Council from a builder and a structural engineer indicate that the hall is need of repair but both comment that it is nonetheless in reasonable condition.
The Waverley Town Hall is located on Bear Street which branches off the State Highway as it passes through the town of Waverley. The building is to the west side of the road and the main entrance to the building faces east and is sited close at the footpath edge.
Exterior of the Town Hall
On approach the hall can be seen to be a simple structure of a pitched-roofed, rectangular building with lean-to, and fronted by a stately and decorative timber façade. From the streetscape the south elevation can be clearly seen to be a 'primary' elevation. The volume of the hall behind is fronted by a symmetrical array of doors and windows. The ground floor doors are centrally placed between decorative Corinthian-style square half-columns. Windows are symmetrically spaced each side in wall sections separated by similar columns and are double-hung timber sash with rounded decorative heads and architraves. At the first floor a timber plinth, supported by brackets, visually separates the upper floor, a repeat of the window array, but here with half-circle window heads. The centrally and symmetrically placed upper level doors comprise two vertical board doors with top lights and open out onto a delicately poised balcony, and provide access in and out of the cinema projection room behind. An impressive parapet of rectangular decorative panels and a central classically styled arch and central flagpole.
To the east side the window, column and parapet arrangement is continued at the ground floor level in front of the lean-to structure of the Supper Room. Two windows, double-hung and with rounded heads, are installed between columns and beneath a parapet in similar form.
The entire front face of the hall is high enough for new viewers to be unaware that a building of an entirely different shape lies behind.
The remaining three facades of the building reveal it as a simple unadorned building clad in bevel back weatherboards with a corrugated roof and brick foundations. Three exits with ramps and stairs are provided from the hall on its southern side. After completion a precarious toilet was added to the north west corner of the building and a kitchen lean-to was attached to the supper room. The whole building is three stairs off the ground at its entrance but the ground drops away to the rear.
Interior of the Town Hall
The central front doors are four-panelled timber doors, tall and heavy, with a rounded top lights. Either side of the doors are decorative brackets supporting a decorative lintel. The doors lead into an entrance lobby with a ticket booth to the left and the main switchboard cupboard to the right. A further pair of panel doors leads to the hall lobby with access to the hall straight ahead and to women's cloakrooms and gallery stairs to the left and men's cloakrooms to the right.
The Women's Cloakrooms comprise a small match-lined lobby followed by a match lined room of around 12 square metres fitted with toilet fittings, partitions and cubicles of recent origin. Ceilings are timber panelled and are re cut-away where the stairs and gallery protrude into the overhead space.
The Men's Cloakrooms comprise of a large lobby with access into the Hall separated from toilet facilities by a partition wall of recent origin. Ceilings are panelled timber sloping to account for the gallery, and walls are match lined.
The stairs leading to the gallery are of a gentle rise and moderate width (1.2 metres) and in three sections; a twelve stair flight followed by ten and then seven stair flights, between each a landing turning around the gallery so the gallery is entered from the top. The stairway is match-lined and has art-nouveau style brackets at the ground floor lintel entrance. The balustrading is vertically match-lined with a simple arrised timber handrail. At each turn of the stair are large bevelled rimu newels with spherically shaped tops. A bracketed circular section timber handrail is fitted in addition. Walls are match lined in varying orientations - vertical and horizontal. The ceiling of the Hall forms the ceiling of the stairs. A four-panel door at the fifth step secures the Gallery.
The Gallery comprises seven tiers with timber floors and two aisles with three sections of seating for 90 people dropping down to a matchlined balcony balustrade. The Gallery balustrading handrail is a simply smoothly curved timber section. The windows (double hung sashes with semi-circular toplights) that are symmetrical on the exterior are barred and fit either side of the projection room on the interior.
The Projection Room is pinex-lined with a more recent flush-panel door.
Above the Gallery the Hall ceiling extends through to the wall behind - uninterrupted by the insertion of the Gallery but rising to join the walls above the window heads.
The Hall is entered through a pair of three panelled timber doors with moulded architraves and underneath the overhanging match-lined forms of the Gallery above, cut away to allow access through doorways.
The Hall is a large space of around 17metres x 12metres. It has a painted match-lined longitudinally boarded ceiling that generally follows the shapes of the roof timbers behind however at the long edges where the ceiling meets the walls the boards are broadly coved, and edged at the wall with a frieze rail. Three centrally aligned ceiling rose mouldings are spaced through the central access with the middle of these supporting a single chandelier light.
Walls are match-lined and painted down to the dado trim at 1.3 metres from the floor. Below the dado trim the walls are lined with a timber board material such as plywood or hardboard.
The Hall is lit by five double-hung windows along the south side of the building. Each sash has six panes of glass - predominantly older patterned glass but occasionally with new clear glass.
Straight ahead is the stage with its curving edge and large proscenium opening. The arch is square with rounded corners and receding reveals lined with pinex-type material. Either side a single four-panel timber door opens to a short flight of stairs and the stage beyond. Below the centre of the curving stage edge is a diamond shaped motif in timber moulding. The under-stage space is access by to hatches to each side.
To the left, double exit doors, of vertical boards over rails and styles, give access to the southern exterior.
To the right, tall wide concertina doors access the room where seating is stored, once the western end of the Supper Room.
The timber floor of close-fixed timber boards runs the full length of the Hall.
The Stage is 1.14 metres above the Hall floor level, is gently raked towards the bowed audience edge. The proscenium opening reveals are radiating and angled with rounded corner timber mouldings. The Oregon flooring has been replaced at the front edge with a wide strip of particleboard - most likely as a repair.
The stage is the full width of the Hall and over 9 metres deep. At the rear large wide double doors give access to the exterior by means of an unprepared loading bay. Visible above are roofing beams, a mixture of old and new, with flooring for gantry operations. To the east side a back stage balcony is attached above the stairs. On all walls are fixture and paraphernalia of stagecraft: rails, phones, brackets etc. Walls are unpainted match lining and through the roof beams the corrugated roofing is visible. There is considerable graffiti on the stage walls.
Off stage, to the north are three dressing room doors. These rooms fit beneath the lean-to structure at the northwest corner of the building.
Dressing Room 1: has a sloping match-lined ceiling centred over the room, match-lined walls, a timber floor and a four panelled timber door. A two panelled timber door with skylight leads to a toilet. A low double-hung window with plain architraves faces north and alongside a circular porcelain underbasin is set in a crude curved timber washstand. Storage cupboards line one wall. A door leads through to the adjacent Dressing Room 2.
Dressing Room 2: a similar room to Dressing Room 1 and has also a phone, mirror a more recent basin.
Dressing Room 3: has been modified by removing the fittings of a dressing room and the wall adjoining the next-door Supper Room. The space that has been created is thus a small timber stage for the Supper Room.
The Supper Room is a long room that takes up most of the lean-to structure that runs the full length of the building. It is accessed through a pair of tall panel doors and wide timber concertina doors from the Hall.
At the west end the dressing room floor is visible as a stage and at a point just over half-way a dividing wall with a pair of panel doors dissects the room: the west end being used for storage of chairs and the east end as a Supper Room.
The Supper Room has a timber floor and a match-lined ceiling. A panel door, with a keyhole window, and two hatches open on the kitchen, and three windows and a pair of exterior doors open towards the outside on the north-east corner of the building. A pair of windows face the north from the chair storage portion of the room.
Accessed from the Supper Room, the kitchen is a large room and is located in a lean-to attached to the primary lean-to of the Supper Room. Joinery (stainless steel benchtops and timber joinery) lines the two longer walls and ovens are positioned on the west end wall.
Ceilings are board-&-batten; three windows face north; walls are a formica-type material over match lining: and an exterior door gives access to the west.
Research to date indicates that the Waverley Town Hall is the oldest purpose-built town hall not to have undergone extensive modification in Taranaki and across the adjoining districts of Wanganui and Rangitikei.
Waverley (1908); Taihape (1912); Inglewood (1913), Hunterville (1929); Opunake (1939); Normanby (1954); Manaia (1955); Kaponga (1956); Hawera Memorial Hall (1958); Marton Memorial Hall (1961), Midhirst (1976); and Ratana Manuao Hall (1982).
Within this broad area, only two halls are older: Waitotara Town Hall (1892) and Hempton Hall at Okato (1904), but these halls have both been extensively altered and added to over the years. The Waitotara hall is, moreover, considerably smaller than the Waverley hall.
Some halls that are more properly classified as rural halls are also older. Some of these halls are fairly large, but they are not located in towns and are much smaller in scale than the Waverley hall. Many have also had extensive additions.
Two town halls similar in age to the Waverley hall - Bulls (1910) and Eltham (1911) - have been extensively modified: both have had wide balconies and large projection boxes added to their front façades and these protrude from the upper level to the edge of the street. By comparison, the modifications to the Waverley hall's façade have been very minor.
The Opunake, Normanby and Manaia halls have replaced halls that were destroyed by fire, and the Kaponga hall is built on the same site as a hall that had been demolished. The Hawera, Normanby, Manaia, Marton and Kaponga halls are war memorial halls. The Hawera and Ratana Manuao halls differ from the other halls as both are built within larger complexes.
1907 - 1908
Projection box added to gallery, doors and balcony replace 2 windows in façade; small arch removed.
Moving of ticket box from right to left side of entrance lobby
Removal of wall separating third dressing room from supper room.
Removal of three obelisks from parapets; removal of decorative brackets on either side of upper-level arch; removal or blocking in of balusters.
New lean-to (kitchen area) added off supper room
Small toilet area added to back of building; Two tiny windows inserted into lower right section of primary structure's front façade.
Constructed in 1908, one façade of timber and three of weatherboard, with a corrugated roof and brick foundations
22nd June 2007
Report Written By
Diana Beaglehole and Alison Dangerfield
R. Bremer, Waverley School's first century: an historical record, including an introduction to early Waverley, Waverley School Centennial Committee, 1973
M. P. Condon, Waverley-Waitotara Returned Services' Association (Incorporated): 1920-1995, Waverley-Waitotara Returned Services' Association, 1996
L. Sole, Waverley 1860-1920, Waverley-Aotea Rotary Club, 1983
L. Sole, Waverley: the early years, Waverley, 1997
South Taranaki District Council, 2007
South Taranaki District Council Report to Patea Community Board, 5 Feb. 2007, South Taranaki District Council.
19 June 2006, p.3; 16 Feb. 2007, p.3
22 Aug. 1908
A fully referenced version of the registration report is available from the NZHPT Central Region Office
Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.