Monday, November 05, 2012

Book a marvellous celebration of small-town New Zealand

A new book about community halls of small-town New Zealand records important moments in our social history that are in danger of being lost, and celebrates the spirit and strength of rural communities nationwide.
On a Saturday Night: Community Halls of Small-town New Zealand, the latest book from Canterbury University Press, is written by Michele Frey and Sara Newman and features striking photographs by John Maillard and John O’Malley.

“This book records a slice of New Zealand history and a part of New Zealand culture which is being lost as small towns change and New Zealand life becomes more urbanised,” says co-author Mrs Newman.

“It tells the lively and entertaining stories of the people who lived in those small towns and whose social lives were mainly centred on the community halls. Their stories are colourful, funny, sad, happy, even tragic. Their lives were sometimes hard but their community spirit comes through in these stories.”

In the book the diverse stories of 39 halls, ranging from Whakapara in the North Island to Mossburn in the South Island, are told from their humble beginnings to their peak in popularity, in some cases to their decline but often to their repair and resurrection.It even includes two that I knew as a boy growing up in Gisborne - The Ormond Hall, and the Waerenga-o-kuri Hall. Gosh, brought back a flood of memories.

Each hall and its local residents have a different story that reflects some of the most iconic moments in our nation’s history. The halls have been used for everything from school classrooms and polling booths to venues for farewells and welcome-home parties for servicemen from both world wars, stag parties, birthday parties, weddings, dance evenings, film screenings, flag euchre evenings and much more.  

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, published by Canterbury University Press, 2012, RRP NZ$45, Paperback

 On a Saturday Night: Community Halls of Small-town New Zealand will be launched with an old-fashioned afternoon tea next Sunday, 11 November 2012, 3-5pm, Tai Tapu Hall, Old Tai Tapu Road, Tai Tapu (20 minutes drive from Christchurch).. 

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