New Orange order as society sells old hall

By Isaac Davison

The Orange Hall in Newton Rd has a rateable value of $2.4 million. Photo / Paul Estcourt
The Orange Hall in Newton Rd has a rateable value of $2.4 million. Photo / Paul Estcourt

A colourful piece of Auckland's social history will soon be privately owned, as the heart of Auckland's early jazz and big-band scene is sold for the first time.

The Orange Hall, or the "Orange", on Newton Rd, established itself as a popular dance hall before television and other forms of entertainment captured Aucklanders' attention.

It was immortalised in the 1958 Peter Cape song Down the Hall on Saturday Night in the line, "We're as slick as the Orange in Auckland".

The 743sq m building is in good condition, with many of its original features - such as the dance floor, which used to be sprung - still intact.

The Auckland City Council's rateable value for the hall is $2.4 million.

Built in the 1923 for the Orange Lodge, an Irish Protestant group, the hall had become a hotspot for social events by the 1940s.

During World War II, the Orange opened its doors six nights a week to crowds who queued four-deep down its steps and along Newton Rd.

It was one of the institutions that helped launch the careers of performers such as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and the late Sir Howard Morrison.

The supper room below the dance hall area served sandwiches, cakes, tea and coffee for the crowds until the 1980s. No alcohol was allowed on the premises by the owners, the Auckland Orange Hall Society.

The duties of the lodge's trustees were "to promulgate the principles and further the practice of the Protestant religion and to afford its members the means of social intercourse, spiritual improvement and rational recreation".

Late-night closing and the advent of bands in pubs contributed to the waning popularity of dance halls, and 1987 saw the "last waltz" in the Orange.

It has since housed a performing arts school, which repainted its trademark orange interior cream, and more recently the City Christian Church.

The church's relocation last year has prompted the society to put the hall, which it no longer uses for meetings, on the market.

Real estate agency Bayleys says the building is being sold by private treaty, with February 24 the cut-off date for offers.

- NZ Herald

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