A unique event to capture what it means to live in Te Puna will celebrate the end of an era for the rural community.

Te Puna Talks has been organised by long-time resident Beth Bowden to give people the chance to tell their stories in the familiar surroundings of the Memorial Hall before it was demolished to make way for the intersection upgrade.

Ms Bowden and another Te Puna identity Tommy "Kapai" Wilson dreamed up the idea to gather people together and invite them to speak on what living in Te Puna meant to them.

Each person would have up to eight minutes to give an entertaining talk that could canvas the past, present and future. Even pupils from Te Puna School would be invited to speak.


"Age is no bar," she said.

A small entry fee would be charged by the Te Puna Hall Committee to help fundraise for the new hall which should be finished by March next year.

They were hoping to get someone along with a video camera to record the talks that would then go into the new hall's archive room.

"No stories will be wasted, we will keep them all."

One of Ms Bowden's favourite memories was the motorcycle races held in the late 1950s on a circuit that followed Armstrong Rd, Snodgrass Rd, Borrell Rd and Te Puna Rd, with the start/finishing line outside the Tharfield farm at 78 Te Puna Rd.

"It was left turns all the way, with hay bales on the corners. There were a few thrills and spills."

She would love to hear from people who had photos or stories of the two or three meetings.

Another strong memory was the old one-way concrete bridge across the Wairoa River that was replaced by the current two-lane bridge in the 1960s. In those days, motorists had to wait until the bridge was clear of traffic before they could cross. "It was all goodwill and good manners."

She vividly recalled the day the bridge closed when her horse Eddie that she had given to Maurice Pearston became the last horse on the bridge. "I have a wonderful picture of Maurice riding Eddie across the bridge."

Ms Bowden said a family friend could even remember the wooden bridge that spanned the river.

Food and refreshments would be provided at Te Puna Talks and people could come and go as they pleased.