ANZAC and Kiwi Halls

58-62 Bell Street and Birdwood Street, FEATHERSTON

Quick links:

When New Zealand's largest military training camp was established in Featherston in 1916, the settlers of the area showed their appreciation of the soldiers by erecting a magnificent social hall known as 'the ANZAC Club' on the corner of Bell and Birdwood Streets. Built near the railway station, the club was designed to entertain its soldier visitors and save them from the 'pitfalls of the towns and cities'. Initiated by three early settlers, the land, building and furnishings were entirely paid for by descendants of early Featherston pioneers. Designed and erected by builders Murray & Rayson, no expense was spared on the project, the completed complex costing just over £8759. Inside, reading and writing rooms, billiard tables, a supper room and a refreshment bar were all provided for the comfort of the soldiers. Weekly balls were held in the main concert hall, which was capable of seating 600 people, and included a stage and dressing rooms. Electricity was supplied by a generator, as Featherston was not connected to the national grid until 1925. The unusual decision not to provide entirely separate facilities for officers earned the building praise from at least one Member of Parliament present at its opening. During the influenza epidemic of 1918 to 1919, the ANZAC Club, formerly used to entertain the soldiers, became a hospital, its extensive facilities making it admirably suited for this purpose. After the First World War the hall was gifted to the Featherston Borough Council as a war memorial. It was again used as a hospital in 1943 to care for the Japanese prisoners wounded in the riot at the former Featherston camp. Following the Second World War, two rooms were converted into a Kiwi Memorial Hall in remembrance of Wairarapa soldiers killed during the conflict. Between and after the wars the hall served as a country hall. Renowned throughout the Wairarapa for its fine dance floor, it was considered the most important venue for social gatherings in the district. It continues in its role as a community hall and remains an expressive reminder of Featherston's intriguing history. The ANZAC and Kiwi Halls have outstanding significance as a symbol of the patriotism that predominated in small communities throughout New Zealand during the First World War. From the electricity especially generated to light the building to the variety and quality of the ANZAC Club facilities, the building stands as testimony to the lengths the Featherston community went to, to provide for the comfort and entertainment of the soldiers. Its use as a hospital increases the building's substantial historical significance as it connects the Club with two events of national importance, the influenza epidemic and the riot of the Japanese prisoners in 1943. The building has local cultural significance as a memorial, not only to the soldiers who died in the two world wars, but to the early Pakeha settlers of the town and local Maori leaders whose portraits hang throughout the Club. Great similarities between the materials and design used in the Club and the demolished Featherston Military Camp buildings are demonstrated in early photographs. The architecture of the ANZAC Club provides a unique and valuable insight into the construction of what was then New Zealand's largest military training camp. The unusual accommodation for both officers and soldiers under one roof gives the building rarity value. The architectural, cultural and physical value of the building is recognised and valued by the local community.

ANZAC and Kiwi Halls | Rebecca O'Brien | 18/08/2002 | NZ Historic Places Trust
ANZAC and Kiwi Halls | Kath Jennings
ANZAC and Kiwi Halls. Interior | Rebecca O'Brien | 18/08/2002 | NZ Historic Places Trust



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

7th July 1987

Date of Effect

7th July 1987

City/District Council

South Wairarapa District


Wellington Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Pt Secs 213-214 Town of Featherston (RTs WN225/233 and WN343/242), Wellington Land District, and the buildings known as ANZAC and Kiwi Halls thereon. See extent map tabled at the Rārangi Kōrero Committee meeting on 30 April 2019.

Legal description

Pt Secs 213-214 Town of Featherston (RT WN343/242), Wellington Land District

Stay up to date with Heritage this month