$3.39m for South in national halls renovation scheme

Shane Jones. Photo: ODT files
Shane Jones. Photo: ODT files
New paint, new cladding, new roofs, new heat pumps — all this and more is on the way for the public halls and war memorials of Otago and Southland.

Regional economic development minister Shane Jones was due to announce today that $12.4million from the provincial growth fund would be spent across the country renovating halls and memorials.

Of that, $2,718,606 has been granted for projects in Otago and $679,772 in Invercargill.

Some projects are relatively minor — the painting of the Maori Hill coronation hall.

Others, like the reroofing and recladding of the Waiwera South hall, are much bigger.

Waiwera hall committee chairwoman Anna Whiteside said an engineer from the Clutha District Council assessed the hall before an application for funding was made.

The hall still had quite an important part to play in the district, she said.

"The school use it quite regularly and it still has the odd function and there was a funeral there this week.

"It is still an aspect [of the community] we would like to see maintained.

"But, you know what it’s like in small communities.

"It’s hard sometimes.

"So, it’s good we are getting this money for things we probably wouldn’t be able to achieve."

War memorial specialist Ann Robbie, of Ryal Bush, said she was pleased to see $679,772 would be spent on seven of the 107 memorials and memorial gates in Invercargill.

They include the Southland Boer War memorial and the Southland Cenotaph.

Ms Robbie has spent thousands of dollars personally getting repairs done to various memorials.

"It was actually really humbling because I’ve had to fight to get funding for it.

"It’s very, very difficult."

She noted one problem facing the Invercargill council would be the Waikiwi memorial gates project.

"Someone has removed those gates. They’re gone. Nobody knows where they are."

Ms Robbie hoped someone had put them into safe storage.

Mr Jones said more than 1000 people were expected to be employed during the renovation programme nationwide.

"This huge programme of works will ensure these facilities are in a good condition and fit for purpose.

"This will reap huge benefits and gives people renewed pride in where they live."

mark.price@odt.co.nz

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