The current Oropi Memorial Hall was opened first in 1953 & then, after extensive refurbishment, in 2016.
Do check back in the coming months as we add more Oropi history to this page.
Demolition Day 8 September 2015
We saved $8000 doing it ourselves! The photos below were taken by Moana Bianchin.
Facts and Figures
Some facts about the hall...
- Total cost of the hall in 1953 was 7 252 pounds, half the cost was covered by the Government subsidy.
- 200 folding chairs cost 1 pound, 6 shillings, three pence each.
- Electric heaters were installed in the early 1960's.
- Storeroom and playgroup room were added in 1986.
- The toilets were renovated, roof replaced, exterior and interior painted in the 1990's.
- 2015-6 Major renovation of the Hall
History of the Hall
Oropi Hall and Oropi school have been inexplicitly linked from the the early days. Oropi School opened in 1899 in the Kensington family house behind Oropi Rural Meats. It closed in 1902. In 1905 the Oropi settlers built a school at Tururu on the corner of Glue Pot and Oropi Gorge Roads on a piece of land donated by Mr J. Seales. Soon after this the settlers built a Hall upon the present Hall site. The land was given by Mrs Blundell on condition there was no charge for church or school functions.
Timber for the first hall was donated by the Gamman brothers from their Mill and it was built by voluntary labour. The hall supper room became a school room for three days a week, with two days at Tururu. Soon the Tururu schoolroom became too small so it was closed and the Hall supper room became Oropi School with the occasional
overflow into the Hall. In 1934 a two-roomed school was opened on the present Oropi School site.
Church services were held in the Hall from its earliest days. Denominations included Church of England, Baptist, Methodist, Salvation Army, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic. An inter-denominational Sunday school was held at the school from the 1930s.
The second Hall was built from timber donated by the Cambie Mill and again built by voluntary labour, especially by Mr Benson, a retired builder. The second Hall burned down and the Oropi Memorial Hall was built in 1953 with a grant from the government as a memorial to the soldiers of both World Wars. The timber for the third hall was given by Mr A Seales and his workmen gave their labour for free.
In 1976 Oropi Playgroup was begun by a mum who was missing adult company. The group met at each other’s homes and as numbers grew they progressed to meeting at the Hall. In 1986 the group fundraised hard and were able to build the playgroup attachment to the Hall.
The current Oropi Memorial Hall and Community Centre was opened in 2016. The project was overseen by local builder Alan Hartwell, designed by Gavin Pendergrast, and built by Hawes Building Solutions.
The History of Oropi Hall
The present Oropi hall is the third one on the same site. A memorial hall came about after the Second World War when the Department of Internal Affairs matched pound for pound what local communities could raise to erect a suitable war memorial such as a statue, a hall, a swimming pool or library. Mrs Eva Forsyth unveiling a memorial plaque at the hall opening in 1953. Her son colin, died in World War II. Now, as recorded in the minute book of Oropi hall committee .... The Oropi Settlers' Association decided on a new war memorial hall in Feb 1949 and an application for a subsidy was made. A Mr. Scott promised to supply logs (10,000 ft in log measurement) for the hall timber. By September 1949, Tuck & Watkins had offered to mill the timber for 12 shillings per 100 ft and that approximately 1100 ft (log measurement) had been cut and carted to the mill. The following men helped voluntarily to cut, log, and cart the timber: Messrs Douglas, Archer, Bert Seales, Knapp, Sullivan, J. Ake, P. Ake, B. Ake and H. Tuanau.
April 1950 - plans for the new hall revised and finally approved by the Dept of Internal Affairs.
Jan 1951 - Mr. Brogden asked and agreed to be placed in the erection of the new hall.
By April 1952 the old hall had been pulled down and some materials sold, and new foundations had been laid.
Mrs Margaret Chittock unveiling a memorial plaque at the hall opening in 1953. Her son Ken, died in World War II. The whole district had been canvassed and a considerable amount of money donated.
May 1952 - an auction was held to sell off roofing iron, flooring and second-hand timber.
June meeting reports that the framework is up and steps have been taken to procure subsidy.
Jan 1953 - new hall is near completion ..
Feb 1953 - date is set for the grand opening of the hall and the unveiling of the War Memorial plaques, date was Saturday 18th of April 1953.
- Total cost of the hall in 1953 was 7,252 pounds, half the cost in subsidy.
- The 200 folding chairs cost 1 pound, 6 shillings and threepence each.
- Electric heaters were installed in the early 1960's.
- Storeroom and playroom were added in the 1980's.
- Toilets renovated, roof replaced, exterior and interior painted in the 1990's..
A group photo at the hall opening in 1953.
The children sitting in front had presented flowers.
Mr C. Kensington. One of the earliest settlers he helped Mr Goldsmith survey the district and with his two brothers, opened the first timber mill at Oropi in 1894. Pictured outside his barn with Mr J. B. Rogers
Mr and Mrs McDonald pictured by the chimney of their demolished half way house at Ngawaro. The bricks for the chimney were sawn from rock in the Mangorewa gorge.
Mr Jesse Seales in his first truck. The chassis was bought by his eldest son Bert, on his return from World War I and the cab and body were made at home. Mr J. Seales came to Oropi from Ngawaro in 1902. He was Oropi's first cream carter and mail man. He used a converted coach at first and later the truck in the photograph, though horses were still used to cross the gorge and when the roads were not bad.
The cream cart was the only means of transport for setters in upper Oropi and grocery orders were left with the cream cans. Newspapers were yet another service. Rarely did the cream cart go down without at least one passenger for town. Mr Seales sons Ronald and Alex carried on with the cream cart until the early 1930's.
Mrs A. A. McPhail an energetic worker for district and church, she was instrumental in forming the Oropi branch of the W.D.F.F. (Women's Division Federated Farmers)in the 1930's
Oropi School's 50th Jubilee
Old identities at the Golden Jubilee.
Back row from left; Mr E. Wasley, Mr S. Fleming, Mr J.K. Hamilton, Mr A. Mcphail, Mr J. Steward, Mr H.Thistlewaite
Front row; Mrs S. Fleming, Mrs Newton,
Mrs J. Rogers, Mrs J. McKenzie, (Postmistress for many years), Mrs J. Gasson
Oropi Peace Scout Patrol, October 1923.
Organised by the teacher Miss White, the patrol had home made khaki dresses and staves from the bush.
Married ladies sack race at the annual Oropi Settlers picnic in 1934, held in Kensington's paddock.
From left: Mrs 0. Oxnam, Mrs J. Parkinson, Mrs J. McKenzie, Mrs K. Forsyth, Mrs Head, and Mrs J. McDonald. Child is Aileen Seales with Laure Thistlethwaite in background.
Some local men at the 1914-18 War. Black arm bands indicate they are in bereavement.
Standing from left, Mr G. Balie, Mr E. Pemberton, Mr Wright, Mr name missing, Mr Oliver.
Sitting; Mr B. Seales, Mr P. Parnwell and Mr J. Graham.
Picture taken in the early 1900's of Mrs Thistlethwaite at her back door.
Haymaking at Hamiltons
Horse and cart hay
Haymaking at Rogers