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Memorial to be unveiled in Okunui

Memorial to be unveiled in Okunui

A specially-designed memorial will be unveiled at the former site of the Okunui Hall on Saturday 24 February.

The memorial will be unveiled by the Hon Nathan Guy, MP for Ōtaki, whose grandfather Duncan Guy originally opened Okunui Hall in 1958 in his capacity as Chairman of Horowhenua County Council.

Horowhenua Mayor Michael Feyen, Horowhenua District Council Chief Executive David Clapperton and MP for Rangitikei Ian McKelvie will also attend.

The unveiling forms part of a reunion of the families of the servicemen who helped to build the hall, which takes place on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 February.

Reunion Committee member Dianne Burke said the hall has an interesting history.

It was built using funds raised by the local community. A raffle, which offered a car as the top prize, earned £1100. In addition, the servicemen raised 400 lambs to sell, and each donated a bobby calf.

The funds raised were used to buy a section of land from the Wall estate for £90. The estate also donated timber to construct the hall, allowing local farmers to fell a stand of white pine.

About 30 local farmers assisted in erecting the hall under the supervision of a carpenter.

Following the opening of the hall, the remaining funds were used to construct tennis courts.

“The hall held a special place in the hearts of locals. I remember all sorts of activities going on there when we were kids – birthdays, table-tennis, Sunday school, CWI meetings, Young Farmers, and many other events,” said Ms Burke.

In 2014, Okunui Hall was sold due to lack of use and removed from its original site on Okuku Road to a new site on Grey Street in Shannon.

“The Okunui Reunion Committee chose the design for a commemorative sculpture, and this became the memorial to be unveiled on Saturday,” said Craig Kidd, Parks and Property Officer for Horowhenua District Council.

The unveiling is open to the public and takes place at 2pm on Saturday 24 February, at the original site of Okunui Hall on Okuku Road, Shannon.


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