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No. 15 (July 1956)
– 9 –


A Maori dining hall was opened at Maraenui in the Bay of Plenty recently by the Hon W. Sullivan, Minister of Labour and M.P. for the Bay of Plenty. The new hall has an interesting history. Originally the children of Maraenui settlement attended the Omaio School, leaving their homes at the beginning of the week and returning home at the weekends. During floods the children were ferried across the Motu River by canoe. In 1900, 16 children and two adults were drowned during this process. In 1905 a monument to those who lost their lives was unveiled by Taa Timi Kara, the then Minister of Maori Affairs. For this occasion a dining shelter was built. In 1909 this structure was replaced by an iron-roofed structure, which served till the completion of the new dining hall. The new dining hall was first suggested in 1932. Funds were raised by concerts, assignments of rents and stock drives. These functions were carried on tilll the beginning of World War II, and it was intended that the hall be used for utility purposes. However, at the end of the war Sir Apirana Ngata felt that as so many local Maori boys had been killed overseas it would be fitting for the hall to be a memorial to all the Maori soldiers killed in the Boer War and both World Wars. The hall was built by labour-only contract at a cost of £3,383 of which £1455 was contributed by the Government. The people themselves raised £2,430. Mr Sullivan praised the community fo the effort and sacrifice that such a small community had made to erect such a fine structure.