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Katie Webley

'Ornament' of Akaroa reopens

Katie Webley, 5 Apr 16
Christchurch attractions - http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/ornament-of-akaroa-reopens-2016040214

Laughter can be heard within the four walls of Akaroa's Gaiety Hall for the first time in almost five years, with the doors finally reopening this weekend. "Everybody's just buzzing. It's something that we've lost for five years and we've got it back again," says local John Dogshun. (Newshub.) At 137 years old, it's called the "ornament of the town" -- a place for the 700-odd locals living in the Banks Peninsula towns to meet. But since the earthquake it's been closed to the township, to be strengthened and to bring the historic building up to the building code. "We've just had no place to gather together, to have fun, celebrate -- sad moments sometimes. Whether it's funerals or ANZAC, lots of things happen here," says Dale Thomas. (Newshub.) The hall is an extra especial place to Mr Thomas. "I actually describe her like an unruly teenager that we all love, but she lives close to the edge," he says. Dale Thomas (Newshub.) It's so close, it nearly became the firewood of the local fire brigade, to be used as a training exercise in the early 2000s. Neglected for years it took $200,000 and hours of voluntary labour to put life back in to the hall. The effort was all led by Mr Thomas and two other local women. The Royal New Zealand Ballet, Dave Dobbyn and the Court Theatre have all been watched on the stage. Last night, a huge celebration was held to mark the hall reopening for the second time -- reuniting the small community. "It's got another life in the community and the community has its life back. It's very important to all of us," says Victoria Andrews. It has given it a chance to stand for another 100 years yet. Newshub.