A meeting of about 50 people voted, with only two opposed, to ask the Far North District Council to strike a targeted rate to save the Ōruru Hall, aka the Swamp Palace, at a meeting at Taipa on Sunday.

The Ōruru and Inland Valleys Association's honorary 'bean counter', Peter Bevin, said a rate raising $1.1 million would cost each rating unit within a 10km radius of the hall, from Aurere Beach Rd to Oruaiti, around $32 a year, or 62 cents per week, over 20 years.

The proposal will now go to the council, mayor John Carter saying the process, which would include consultation with those who would pay the rate, would take about three months. He expected the council to support the proposal, if the required 75 per cent of affected ratepayers agreed, regardless of the outcome of next month's elections.

Two speakers on Sunday suggested demolishing the hall, originally part of the cable complex at Cable Bay, one suggesting that the "ugly" building be replaced with "new age mud brick" structure, but there was no support for that, Mr Bevin and others defending the hall on the basis of its history and its extraordinary acoustics.


However, the cost of reinstating it to a structurally sound state was rising exponentially, association deputy chairwoman Kath Adams saying that if something wasn't done "really soon" it would be lost.

Mr Bevin agreed that restoring the hall was achievable, but it would be a major exercise, and expensive. In 2014 (when a council engineer's report described the structure as being held together by the roof and "a lot of nails holding hands"), the Te Hiku Community Board had allocated $250,000, but "for whatever reason" nothing was done. Now, doing the job properly would cost $1 million, and that was money the council didn't have.

Striking a targeted rate was a "no brainer", Mr Bevin said.

"If we don't spend that sort of money we will lose the hall. It's as simple as that," he added, while, once it was structurally sound, and out of the council's hands, applications could be made for funding to extend and improve it.

"We can't apply for funding while it is owned by the council," he said, "and it would be irresponsible of the association to take it on as it is. If we can make it structurally sound the possibilities are endless."

Inti Jubermann (Inti Construction) said he believed reinstatement was "entirely achievable". He also agreed that $1 million, as a "ceiling price", would be a realistic budget, although Mr Carter believed that the final cost might be significantly less than that.

The council would now obtain definitive costs.