Wellington Scoop

Unique hall from World War 11 under threat at Titahi Bay

marines hall

News from Historic Places Wellington
Time is running out for the only remaining US Marines Hall, at Titahi Bay in Porirua, dating from WWII. Felicity Wong, Chair of Historic Places Wellington, says that at a resource consent hearing in Porirua in December, Historic Places Wellington opposed a demolition application of this community hall.

“Recent changes in Porirua’s new District Plan may weaken the protection of heritage buildings by introducing cost as a more relevant consideration in heritage protection decisions. The hearings decision is expected in mid-February,” says Felicity.

“While Porirua City did not dispute the high heritage value of the building, its CEO Wendy Walker argued at the hearing that Porirua does not consider it an affordable priority to renovate this wooden building. Porirua, in fact has very few heritage buildings listed for protection under its District Plan.”

The council plans to “mitigate” the proposed demolition by landscaping the site into a small commemorative park.

Peter Cooke, a former chair of the Wellington Branch Committee of New Zealand Historic Places Trust and a recognised military historian, gave expert evidence to the hearing on behalf of Historic Places Wellington. He said the building is a unique survivor of a very significant period in New Zealand history.

“There is no other remnant like it in New Zealand,” says Peter. “The significant event it represents is the ‘Friendly Invasion’. Starting in New Zealand’s year of fear, 1942-43, over 100,000 US service personnel spent time in New Zealand. With so many camps built exclusively for US forces in New Zealand, one would think that many vestiges remain. This is not the case. Very few World War II buildings are left, even fewer wooden buildings and even fewer still those built for American use. The US Marines Hall at Titahi Bay is the only one on its original site. “

“This makes the Titahi Bay US Marine Recreation Hall unique and of very special heritage significance, and should be kept,” says Peter.