A small Far North community is welcoming a council commitment to save a historic hall which had been in danger of falling into ruin.
The 117-year-old Oruru Community Hall was originally built for Cable Bay's cable station but later moved inland about 7km south of Taipa.
It gained nationwide fame in the 1990s as Swamp Palace, an arthouse movie theatre run by NZ International Film Festival director Richard Weatherly.
When the curtain fell for the last time around 2010 it reverted to a community hall but was shut down by the Far North District Council in July last year due to safety concerns.
The council had set aside $250,000 in 2015 for repairs but the money wasn't spent and the hall continued to deteriorate.
When the issue came to head at a public meeting in Taipa late last year the council committed to carrying out the work needed to make the building safe, then hand over ownership to the Oruru Hall Committee.
Council asset manager Andy Finch said once the building had been re-piled, which was due to be completed by Easter, work to reinstate its structural integrity could begin.
"Unfortunately, significant past alterations to the hall's structure will need to be repaired before we can hand the building to the community. We need to be absolutely confident the hall is safe and meets current building codes."
The biggest concerns were the absence of crucial roof trusses and the removal of internal load-bearing walls to accommodate additions to the hall.
"These will need to be replaced, along with bracing around windows and doorways added during the life of the hall."
The council believes trusses were removed to provide a clear view of the cinema screen but Weatherly has told the committee they were not there when he started showing movies.
Finch said the second phase of work could be put out to tender.
It was too early to say how long the rebuild would take but the council hoped to hand over a safe and compliant building before Christmas. Just over $220,000 had been budgeted for the repairs.
Oruru Hall Committee deputy chairwoman Kath Adams said the group was ''feeling really positive,'' about the building's future and locals were delighted to see repairs under way at last.
''It's really good to see [mayor] John Carter is behind us. He also helped get a drain fixed at the front of the hall which had been blocked for 10 years,'' she said.
The Doubtless Bay community was continuing to raise money for when the hall was handed over. A concert in Mangonui on Saturday had raised about $1500.