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Hunters eye rates relief for old hall

By NATHAN CROMBIE


Wairarapa deerstalkers are seeking rates relief for the more than 100 year old Parkvale Hall they revamped after saving the community building from demolition.

The Wairarapa branch of the NZ Deerstalkers Association is today appealing to a meeting of Carterton District Council for annual rates of just over $600 to be waived against the hall, which the hunters have extensively repaired and upgraded, inside and out, since taking over the formerly dilapidated building in 1999 from the Parkvale Hall Society.

About $50,000 worth of material and labour had been poured into the hall up to 2004, according to a Wairarapa Times-Age report, and another $20,000 was then to be spent on further upgrades.

In 2005, the society, which had been unable to maintain the building, celebrated the hall's 100th birthday.

Duncan Simpson, president of the Wairarapa branch of the NZ Deerstalkers Association, said in a letter to council the hall had been in dire disrepair and was unuseable when the deerstalkers took it over from the hall society on the proviso the community and society could continue to use it.

Deerstalkers had outfitted the hall with a new kitchen and ablution block, a new roof, covered entrance and interior feature wall.

The group were planning to repaint the hall exterior, at a cost of $9000, which was being raised from working bees and grants, Mr Simpson said.

"We feel the Parkvale Hall is still very much a community hall. In fact, it is now used more as a community hall than it was prior to the association owning it," he said.

In the past two years, the hall had been used as a community polling booth and as a venue for first aid training, farmers' meetings, a book launch, meetings of the Wellington Cycle Club, Masterton Running Club, Gladstone Pistol Club, and for Christmas and birthday parties, weddings and reunions.

Mr Simpson said equipment from the hall is used by community groups and individuals and the hall is twice monthly used for deerstalkers' meetings. It houses a collection of deer heads, including some trophies from hunters of historical importance.

He said the Wairarapa branch of the association has 112 members, including entire families, and is a group "of like-minded people who enjoy hunting" and teaching new, younger members safe hunting practices and outdoor skills.

Mr Simpson said members make up more than half the volunteers in Wairarapa Search and Rescue and do other voluntary work in the community that includes running the Masterton Deer Park, maintaining two huts in the Tararua Ranges, monitoring pest traps in the Aorangi Forest Park and helping with the Fernridge Kids' Hunt competition.

"Any money the deerstalkers have to pay in rates will hinder its ability to continue to upgrade and maintain Parkvale Hall - an important community asset," he said. "We feel that as a community organisation overseeing an important community asset, the deerstalkers should not have to pay rates on the building."

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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