Ōmokoroa Settlers' Hall

Bay Trust: Green light for Settlers Hall upgrade

Plans to refurbish an historic community venue in Ōmokoroa will go on public display this month now that over $300,000 in funding is secured.

BayTrust has contributed the final $100,000 necessary to help upgrade the original Ōmokoroa Settlers Hall on Ōmokoroa Road. There are two halls attached to one another on site and the smaller one was built in 1929 as the settlement’s first school. 

Ōmokoroa Settlers Hall Society Incorporated Secretary, Trish Clokie, says over 200 people use the facilities every week and the two halls are believed to be the busiest in the Western Bay.

“The number of people who have been to school here and who have fond memories of community events…we still have people hosting birthdays and other celebrations here too. It’s lovely it’s being used as a community hall should.” The venue is used for everything from art expos and market days to yoga sessions, dance classes and table tennis matches.  

The ‘small hall’ as it’s known, will now have its kitchen and storage areas rebuilt, and its floor and roof levels altered to align with the rest of the hall. “We’re putting in a new kitchen and rejigging the whole thing so there’s no wasted space. And the other exciting thing is we’re upgrading the toilet facilities in both halls so they’re fit for today’s purposes. They’ll be individual cubicles so there will be more room for people with walkers and wheelchair users, and we’re putting in baby change tables too. It’s going to be a lot more appealing to a wider user base.”

Trish says Ōmokoroa’s changing demographics mean it’s more important than ever to make improvements. “We have a lot of young people living here now, and to keep our hall going we need to make it inviting and appealing for them to use.”

BayTrust is one of three main contributors to the project alongside TECT and the Lotteries Commission who are putting in $96,000 each. Western Bay of Plenty District Council will help pay for new sanitary ware, lighting and security, and the Ōmokoroa Centre Trust has also chipped in.

“We have been absolutely blown away by the response of our three big contributors,” Trish says. “We originally started this idea several years ago but the cost of building has just rocketed. There is no way that without these three major funders, we would be able to afford it.”

The new design and building plans by Ian Thorn, of Thorn Architecture Studio Ltd, will be on display in the small hall at the society’s AGM on Sunday November 12th at 3pm. “We’d love locals to come along and have a look at the planned modifications. We’re sure people will be impressed!” Work on the four-month refurbishment is due to begin this December.

BayTrust CEO Alastair Rhodes says Ōmokoroa Settlers Hall is part of the historical fabric of the area. “However, it is now showing its age and needs to be modified and upgraded to ensure it remains a community hub for Ōmokoroa now and in the future. This project will ensure safety, accessibility and inclusivity for the diverse community while at the same time retaining its historical significance.”

BayTrust’s $100,000 has been granted from its Community Amenities Fund which is designed to support intergenerational assets. “We hope the refurbishment of the small hall will make a real difference to the Ōmokoroa community for decades to come.”