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Municipal Chambers, built in 1922, have a level 2 listing with the Historic Places Trust
- February 16, 2021
Improving civic facilities in Dargaville
Kaipara District Council will soon be seeking feedback on their proposal to develop a revitalised Dargaville civic precinct as part of their Long Term Plan consultation.
With proactive planning, the Council is seeking to retain what’s good about the current Council buildings, while addressing issues with their current precarious state. It strikes a balance between being future looking, is fit for purpose and provides value for money over the longer-term.
Our Civic Buildings
Our Municipal Chambers, built in 1922, is listed with NZ Historic Places Trust as a category 2 historic building. It originally housed the Mayor’s office, Borough Council office, meeting rooms and town library. It is an iconic part of Dargaville’s history, and, as home to the town cinema and art gallery, it is an important part of the Dargaville’s arts scene.
The Northern Wairoa War Memorial Hall was opened in 1960, between the Municipal Chambers and the RSA clubrooms. Dargaville’s First World War roll of honour and a New Zealand flag embroidered with the names of men and women from the district who had served overseas during the Second World War were originally in the hall lobby, but are now on display in the annex. The building is used regularly as a sports/performing arts centre and a meeting place for community groups.
The 1990 annex that links the Municipal Chambers to the Northern Wairoa Memorial Hall is leaking.
The cream coloured annex, built in the 1990s, connects the Municipal Chambers to the hall and is a congregating place for the hall and theatre. It includes backstage and storage areas for the hall, Council conference room and commercial kitchen.
Built in 1940s by the North Auckland Electric Power Board, the Dargaville Library is part of the area’s history. Demand for library services has now grown to the point where the existing Library is no longer big enough for the community.
The proposal is to demolish the existing leaky pink 1990s annex addition that adjoins the Municipal Building to the Northern Wairoa Memorial Hall, which would be restored as separate buildings. That has been budgeted for in the draft Long Term Plan.
A modern stand-alone multi-use hub would be developed that would include the library and community facilities that provide shared accommodation for council meetings, office and meeting space and perhaps a cafe. The hub development would be led and overseen by an independent Trust that would be responsible for defining what the community wants and raising funds for the development.
An independent Trust would have access to funding sources that are not available to the Council and would best represent the community interests. This model has worked well in other areas, such as Kaikohe and Kaitaia, where they now have a well-used and welcoming facility at the heart of their community.
The current buildings are in a precarious position. If we don’t take action the buildings will continue to deteriorate and become unsafe.
The 1990s annex that links the Municipal Chambers and Northern Wairoa War Memorial Hall leaks and is growing mould. The annex spaces are awkward and underused and it is uneconomic to remediate and/or modernise them. The Municipal Chambers are currently at less than 33% of the National Building Standard, which could be increased to 65% of the standard with seismic upgrading. The building is currently licensed to the Cinema and to an arts trust for gallery space, with no permanent use on the second floor.
The Northern Wairoa Memorial Hall is structurally sound, but tainted by the mould growing in the surrounding annex.
The Dargaville Library is in good condition but has outgrown the space available.
Through the spatial planning process, the community developed a vision for Dargaville.
In 2050, Dargaville is the epicentre of Kaipara food production technology, a visitor hub for our natural and cultural tourism attractions and a place where our history and the community are celebrated.
Civic precincts are the focal point of community life and the heart of the town centre. It is a public space that welcomes people from every walk of life and accommodates a wide range of activities, from events sponsored by individuals in the community, to community-wide events, such as potluck dinners. Creating a hub is an opportunity to revisualise how we use the public space and to design something that is welcoming and fit for purpose.
Council offices nearby often attract clusters of professional services businesses nearby. The limited stock of quality offices in Dargaville presents an opportunity to bring service businesses into the vicinity, on a leased or temporary basis.
The hub could also reflect our rich cultural diversity by showcasing Kaipara’s rich tangata whenua stories.
The Council will be discussing options with the current building tenants and working with them to minimise disruption.
Demolishing the 1990s annex would result in some loss of space that is currently used by the community.
By demolishing the cream-coloured 1990s annex the buildings would again be separated and we would lose the congregating space outside the hall and cinema. Three sides of the Northern Wairoa War Memorial Hall would need to be reclad and the roll of honour would need to move. There may be some small disruption to the cinema and hall as a new entrance is developed and during the destruction phases. We would work with the cinema to minimise this as much as possible.
The toilets to the right of the entrance would need to be replaced and a new kitchen would need to be planned as part of the new hub. Some of the backstage areas for the Northern Wairoa War Memorial Hall would also be lost, although these are already rendered unusable by the mould that has had to be sealed off inside the building.
What do you think?
The Council is planning ahead to establish community spaces that will serve us well in the future.
If you care about your community, get involved. Please have your say in the Long-Term Plan consultation between 1 March and 1 April.
You can discuss proposals with Elected Members online or at meetings in the Mangawhai Tavern Market, Te Kōpuru, Paparoa market or the Dargaville Twilight Market. Check our website for details and register for our Kaipara Korero newsletter to keep up to date.
Go to kaipara.govt.nz/LTP
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