Early days of the Ihakara Hall; Arapaepae Hall

From the Horowhenua Chronicle, May 30, 1912, this article details the opening of the Arapaepae Hall by the Mayor of Levin.

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The newly erected hall in Arapaepae Road near the creamery was formally opened yesterday by the Mayor (Mr B.R. Gardener).  The hall is very conveniently situated and will prove of great utility to the growing township.

The interior was most artistically decorated with evergreens and autumn blooms, and the proceedings were very interesting.  There was a large gathering at the opening, and at the close the women kindly dispensed tea. 

Mr S.A. Broadbelt, who presided, said that he was very pleased to see such a large gathering present.  The building about to be opened was going to supply a very much needed want for the district. 

He explained that in the first place they had money promised them to the extent of 77 pounds 10s, all of which had been received with the exception of seven pounds.  All of the latter sum was sterling value.  (Applause). 

They had spent on the cost of the land 20 pounds, legal expenses amounted to 16 pounds, while the building had cost 111 pounds and the provision of seats entailed an expenditure of 11 pounds 10s.  That made a total outlay of some 158 pounds 10s. 

Temporary arrangements had been made for the balance and the idea was to raise further funds as time went on. The hall had been vested in the hands of trustees, who were all local residents. 

It had been decided to name the building the Arapaepae Hall.  Unfortunately they had not got a township, but he thought in the near future they would have one – (applause) – and then it was quite feasible that they might then change its name. 

The cordial thanks of the residents were due to Mrs Shute for lending her house for religious purposes and that was really the first step taken in the erection of the building.
 

He desired to take the opportunity of thanking those women and gentlemen who had canvassed for subscriptions and without making any invidious distinction, he wished to specially mention the name of Mr Cameron (loud applause). 

Mr Cameron deserved to be heartily thanked for the great interest he had taken in the matter and also because he had collected considerably more than any other person. 

In conclusion Mr Broadbelt remarked that they were going to have a post office very shortly and he also believed a side school (loud applause). 

The Mayor, in declaring the hall open, thanked the committee and trustees for giving him the opportunity of being present to open the building, more especially as he was one of the oldest residents and therefore he knew the requirements of the neighbourhood thoroughly. 

He referred to the great developments that had taken place during the last 20 years, when the district was covered with bush, and pointed out that nowadays they had good metalled roads, and the fact that they had erected the hall demonstrated that they were a progressive community. (loud applause). 

The hall would not be used for social purposes alone. The various religious denominations would use it on Sundays. That was a very laudable thing and it was most gratifying to recognize that different religious bodies could work together so harmoniously. 

He knew how energetic the canvassers had been, he also knew how hard Mr P. Cameron had worked and he believed that the time was not far distant when the liability would be wiped off.  That particular locality was a most progressive one and he believed that before long they would be taking advantage of Levin’s high pressure water service and gas supply.  (Cheers). 

The Rev. S.G. Compton, who also addressed the meeting, recounted the little part he, quite unconsciously, played in the matter of the hall. 

His predecessor used to hold a service in the Ihakara, at Mr Webb’s house.  When he (the Vicar) came to Levin he remembered saying to Archdeacon Fancourt, “Shall I continue with the services there?”  The Archdeacon replied, “Just keep things going as they have been”.  So he went on and Mr Webb left the district and came to Levin, and he (the Vicar) thought perhaps here was his chance to come a little nearer to – if he might say so – civilization. 

He then ventured to ask Mrs Shute if she could help him and he was delighted to receive from her a hearty “Yes”.  She most kindly lent her house for services and that was the little part indirectly he had played in the matter.  Subsequently, the Rev. Mr Jones discussed the matter with him and the result was that fortnigntly services were able to be held between them. Now a nice hall had been built and they would be able to have weekly services.  (Applause).

 
Mr James Prouse remarked that the hall was a splendid one and an advertisement for the locality.  It would enable them to meet together and discuss the requirements of the district.  It would be most useful for religious purposes. 

The Rev. T.F. Jones said that he was very delighted to be present at that meeting.  He, too, had taken a great interest in the hall and he would like to congratulate them on its completion.  It would meet the needs of the place and he was glad to read in one of that day’s papers that a side school had been granted. 

The hall would be most useful for political meetings and social gatherings.  Both Mr Compton and he were very grateful that the hall had that room for religious purposes' and he took the opportunity of expressing on behalf of his Church the gratitude to Mr and Mrs Shute for permitting him the use of their house for religious services. 

He had been asked by the Levin-Otaki Methodist quarterly meeting to present Mr and Mrs Shute a book (this was a handsomely bound volume, “Sacred Songs and Solos,” with music).  Mr Jones then formally handed the volume to Mrs Shute and in doing so said it was a little memento to remind the recipients of the Methodist services which had been held in their house and of their kindness to them all. (Loud applause).  Mr Jones concluded by offering up a blessing for the new building. 

The Vicar replied to the Methodist quarterly meeting on behalf of Mrs Shute and also thanked her most warmly on behalf of his own Church for her great kindness.

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