The current Tamahere Community Centre Committee has done a “phenomenal” job of upgrading a hall that was in great need of repair, says Tamahere School principal Waveney Parker.
“They’ve made amazing progress. It was in a real mess. They’ve been a very professional operation,” Parker told Tamahere Forum.
Parker provided a welcome perspective on the Devine Rd centre which doubles as the school’s hall as well as being a central meeting place for the community. It has come under scrutiny recently as questions have been raised about its funding by a targeted rate that is one of the highest in the Waikato district.
Parker’s involvement with the building goes back to 2005 when she first arrived at Tamahere School and the community centre was still in the planning phase.
Back then, the local hall was a humble, 90-year-old one next to the tennis courts on Devine Rd. That hall was on Waikato District Council land, although within the school precinct, and also doubled as community centre and school hall. It was relocated to Taupiri in 2012.
For years, Parker was a member of the centre committee, an incorporated society, whose rules call for the school to have two members. The present deputy principal Annette Howard is the committee secretary and the school manages bookings for the hall.
That involvement and the fact that services such as water, sewerage and security, are shared between the two bodies make for strong links between the school, the centre and its committee. It is also why the school pays a modest $4500 annual rent.
“There is quite a bit of school staff time and resources involved with the centre,” Parker said.
She is adamant that it is a “massive community asset” … especially since its recent upgrade.
“They’ve spent money because it needed it. They’ve done a phenomenal job.”
More on this topic: A rate that’s a bit rich?
She notes that the centre committee struggles for members and community support, its annual meetings barely able to muster enough people to proceed. But every child at the school who benefits from the hall facilities lives locally, which means their parents are contributing the annual $70 targeted rate.
That’s a change since 2005 when the school was attended by many children from outside the area.
“The whole school is now in zone,” Parker said. “All the parents are paying [for the hall]. It makes sense to keep an eye on it and look after it.”
While the recent and much needed upgrade has been welcome, Parker believes there are aspects of the hall that could be improved to ensure it remains attractive to users.
For instance, it can’t be used for after school programmes because the area around the stage is not considered a safe enough space. There is also no heating in the main hall, and it lacks technology such as a DVD, data projector and lighting that are useful for gatherings such as funerals.
“To continue to be a good asset those are the things they need to think about,” she said.
Parker recalls the early days of the hall, including the massive, local fundraising effort to build it. She doesn’t recall any community consultation about the $70 targeted rate.
“I remember the consultation over the targeted rate for the recreational reserve,” she said of the more recent $38 rate that ratepayers contribute for the Tamahere Park playground and facilities.
“I don’t remember consultation for the hall rate.”
On the subject of the around $400,000 loan that the Waikato District Council provided for the hall, and which was paid off last month (June 2022), sparking questions about whether the full $70 targeted rate should continue to be collected, Parker is clear.
“The loan was never a matter for the committee,” she said. It appeared to be a transaction handled entirely by the council, she told Tamahere Forum.