Monday, January 31, 2011

Living Halls: the Second World War Memorial Community Centres of the First Labour Government

Bill McKay is doing research into the Second World War Memorial Community Centres of the First Labour Government (1935-1949). He'd love to hear from anyone with information about these halls, anywhere in the country. From the introduction to his paper with Fiona Jack (with permission):
Throughout New Zealand, in nearly every city, town, district and settlement there stands a war memorial. Few commemorate the New Zealand Wars of the Nineteenth Century or the Boer War; most memorialise the two global conflicts of the Twentieth. New Zealand, although a nation remote from Europe, was still diligent in its duty to England and Empire and deeply involved in these conflicts. Both World Wars are said to have played a significant role in the development of a sense of national identity here.

Many of these memorials are cenotaphs or statues, some are arched gateways to domains or sports grounds but often one will see a small town or country hall or even a library inscribed with the words War Memorial. Few realise the extent to which these War Memorial buildings were the result of the First Labour Government’s policy to financially support the construction of community centres as official war memorials after the Second World War. And few realise the number erected throughout the nation: over 400 including meeting houses and dining halls on rural marae; a chain of community spaces constructed throughout the land that are a significant legacy of the Second World War and new Government policy.

Contact Bill at, or 09 3737599 ext. 88891.


  1. I've twittered this post. Never know what help it may bring.


  2. Panmure Community Hall and Dunkirk Road Activity Centre (both in Auckland) are war memorial halls - owned by Auckland Council

  3. Wellsford has a new War Mem. library, the council (which now holds the title documents to the old Library building ) plan to sell the said old library building. We need info about how this building came to be, as we believe it was built with funds raised by the community. pleas email me on if anyone has any knowledge about this they are happy to share with me...thanks