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Historical Society Incorporated

January—February 2017

Prepared by Lisa Truttman, President and Editor

No. 85

Happy New Year to you all. Here’s hoping 2017 brings
everyone what they hope for.
I had a good meeting in December with Tracy
Mulholland, the new Chairperson of the Whau Local
Board, and Board Member Derek Battersby. The Board
appear quite interested in the views of our Society with
regard to our area’s heritage. At the moment, I’m up for
giving a deputation presentation to the Board at their 22
February meeting about what we do, and what we hope
for. Any and all additional ideas and points for that
would be greatly appreciated.
This is good timing, as this year is our 15th anniversary, come June.

150 years of the Whau Public Hall
Also this year — the 150th anniversary of the old Whau
Public Hall/Avondale Public Hall/first public free library
in Avondale. Yes, that old hall beside the Hollywood
Cinema, still part of the streetscape after all this time and
through so many changes to the building. This is
Avondale’s second-oldest surviving building after St
Ninians — it would be nice if we could mark the anniversary somehow.
This hall was officially opened on the cinema’s site on 13
November 1867.
Fundraising for the hall had gone on since the establishment of the Whau Minstels, a group of workers from
Benjamin Gittos’ tannery that toured around giving concerts, even as far away as Riverhead, all to raise money
for the hall, which was designed by Whau Bridge postmaster and local store keeper Luke Hallam Holloway
(1846-1929). The foundation for the hall was laid in
August 1867, local resident William Forsyth the builder.
Whau.—The foundation of the Whau Hall is now laid, and
before many weeks we may expect to see as nice a little Hall in the " valley of desolation" as any in any country district. Its position is a very commanding one, being
at the junction of four or five roads. We wish it every
success. [NZ Herald 20 August 1867]
Of course, back then, at the time of the NZ Herald’s
“little Hall” comment, we were a backwater rural settlement, “Whau” the alternate (mis)spelling for “Wao” —

NZ Herald 12 November 1867

part of “the forest”, which was wilderness or “desolation” to
early European settlers. (Folks today won’t understand that,
so the name ends up mispronounced as well …)
Anyway …
The opening of the Whau Public Hall took place last evening, when a soiree, concert, and ball were held.
The hall, which is just completed, is a neat Gothic structure,
and presents more the appearance of a chapel or schoolroom than a hall, having a handsome porch in front, which
sets it off to great advantage. The hall was built after the
designs of Mr Holloway, a resident at the Whau, and reflects much credit on his architectural skill. Mr Forsaith
[sic] who is the builder, contracted to erect it for £97.
The building was tastefully decorated for the occasion with
ferns and floral devices. After tea had been partaken of, Dr.
Aickin was called upon to occupy the chair. The Chairman
said they were indebted to the Whau Minstrels for the idea
of erecting that hall, and also for liberal support; and their
warmest thanks were due to those gentlemen. He had no
doubt that the hall would prove a great benefit to that district. It would be used for literary pursuits, for amusements,
and also for religious purposes. It would be found of great
use in bringing the settlers together, and creating more
friendly intercourse with each other — a thing which was
much needed in all country districts.
He then called upon Mr. Bollard to read the financial statement. Mr. Bollard said that, after the able speech given by

the chairman, he thought it would be useless to speak at
any length, but he would simply state how the hall stood
with regard to financial affairs. The contract for erecting
the hall was £97, towards which £50 had already been
subscribed, and £25 had been promised; leaving a debt of
£22 on the hall, but it was expected that the proceeds of
the tea meeting would go a good way in clearing off the
debt. Dr. Pollen also briefly addressed the meeting. Mr.
Westmoreland gave some musical selections in intervals
during the meeting, with good effect. A vote of thanks was
given to the ladies who had supplied the tea, and the
meeting was brought to a close. The Whau Minstrels then
treated the audience with several songs, after which dancing was commenced, and was kept up till an early hour.
[Southern Cross 14 November 1867]
This was West Auckland’s first purpose-built community
building. It was to house the first (subscription) library
until the early 1880s, as well as the school which moved
from the Presbyterian Church, and remained in the wooden hall until the first school buildings were completed on
the present site of Avondale Primary School in 1882. In
the 1870s, important meetings took place concerning the
surveyed path of the Western Line of the railway to
Helensville and beyond. Elections were held there, community festivals, and volunteer military drilling and
presentations. The young men were farewelled as they
went to the First World War from that hall, and those who
survived were welcomed home there as well.
Luke Holloway, the hall’s original designer lived to the
age of 83, and lies buried at Waikaraka Cemetery near
An old resident of Auckland, Mr. Luke Hallam Hollowav,
aged 83, died at his residence at Epsom, on Thursday.
Mr. Holloway was born in Nottingham, England, being
the youngest son of the late Mr. John Holloway. He arrived in New Zealand in 1865, and kept a store near the
Whau Creek. For several years he was on the Thames and
Coromandel goldfields. He entered the Land Tax Department and was later transferred to the Property Tax Department. Entering the Deeds Office, he attained the position of deputy-registrar before retiring on superannuation
some years ago. Mrs. Holloway died about three years
ago. There is a family of two sons, Messrs J A and H
E Holloway, of Auckland, and three daughters, Mrs. J
McDougall, of Epsom, Mrs L Totman, of Te Kuiti, and
Miss Holloway, of Epsom.
[NZ Herald 2 November 1929]
The old hall has changed much over time. In 1915, when
the last trustee, John Bollard, transferred the hall to the
Avondale Road Board, the front porch was removed and a
brick frontage added to serve as Road Board and later
Borough Council offices. The hall was the district’s first
cinema, until it was shifted to its present spot, and the
Town Hall extended beside it (the future Grosvenor, then
Hollywood cinema) in 1924.
More alterations in the 1930s to become our library, and
even more in the 1970s when the Citizens Advice Bureau
set up in there, along with the Council’s traffic department for a time. In the 1980s, it served as a community

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Vol II, 1902

centre. In the 1990s, Auckland City Council sold the hall
and the cinema to Jan Grefstad, and it has been privately
owned ever since.

Guest Speakers
Contact Alison Turner, 825-0300, if you have any
suggestions for our Guest Speakers schedule for the new
Upcoming speakers:
February 4
Ted Dickens, on retail shopping at Farmers TC
April 1
To be confirmed—Angela Grace Jones, on heraldry
June 3
William Mutch—railways

Next meeting of the
Avondale-Waterview Historical Society:
at St Ninians, St Georges Road, Avondale
SATURDAY, 4 February 2017, 2.00 pm