They've been at the heart of communities for well over a century and are well-placed for the next - local halls.
Hastings District Council helps maintain the district's 21 community-owned rural halls but some have greater needs than others.
At the latest meeting of the Rural Community Board's Rural Halls Subcommittee, one committee was looking for money to repile its building, while another simply wanted to update its crockery.
The subcommittee voted that council be asked to put in place a funding strategy to lift the standard of rural halls to make sure they are fit for purpose.
Council chief executive Nigel Bickle said coordination would help all the halls navigate the process, rathern than leaving each on their own.
The Provincial Growth Fund announced in August a $290,394 grant to maintain and renovate seven community halls, timed to help prevent a dip in economic activity because of Covid.
Maraekakaho Church hall got the biggest share, receiving more than $132,000 for rewiring and landscaping.
Hall chairman Jonathan Stockley said as well as the PGF stimulus, hall funding provided a substantial social dividend.
"Halls like this are important to a community because they encompass the history of our community," he said.
"So many events that have connected, or influenced, or occurred here in our community - have been reflected in gatherings of all sorts here.
"They don't build things like this anymore - it reflects different craft skills. People value it for that.
"If there is some sort of local emergency this is a place where people can gather, glean information, communicate with each other, get help, get supplies."
The Maraekakaho Church hall started as the local Presbyterian church in 1877.
The original church is now the supper room, where a small part of a library, stocked by 19-century politician and government official Sir Donald McLean, remains.
The main hall structure was added in 1897.
In the 1960s, thanks to a very active amateur dramatics club, a large backstage area was built, with the basement excavated using explosives.
The community continued getting bang for its buck, using the hall as a firing range.
Shooters would lie prone on the church hall floor and fire through the sliding door under the stage.
Targets remain in the basement, where steel beams are lined with timber to reduce ricochets.
Church services have moved to a new church building next door, on a well-sheltered site.
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