This little building was erected as a memorial to Herbert and Gladys Elworthy of Craigmore by their children and grandchildren. It sits on a pleasant section opposite Rongomaraeroa, the Peace Walk in Maungati.
St James Church Hall fulfils the function of a community hall as well as a church. Early in 1924 a Methodist Minister needed a central place in Maungati where he could conduct his services. Mr W J McDonald offered the use of a room in his house until the school was built in 1913. Regular monthly services continued at the school for many years. I imagine when the new church hall went up the local faithful were delighted to have a more permanent venue for worship.
On July 28, 1953, the Maungati Church Hall was officially opened. It was designed by R A Heaney, of Timaru. Built of red brick with wooden details, it measured 50 feet by 20 feet.
A fun discovery was that a Lights On ball was held in the Maungati Church Hall to celebrate the switching on of electric power in the Maungati, Gordons Valley and Southburn areas in May 1960.
Community halls are found throughout all rural farming districts. Once they played a huge part in the community providing a much needed centre for get togethers, dances, meetings, celebrations, church services and the like. Some of these halls are still in use but due to the changing needs of the community, population decline and ease of transport making it far simpler to get into town, these days, they are often they are simply closed up.
This one is still well used, there is a playcentre on site and monthly services are held under the umbrella of the Waimate District Cooperating Parish.
The settlement of Maungati was formed in 1912, the word itself comes from the Māori language words "maunga", meaning "mountain", and "tī", meaning "cabbage tree", translated this means "mountain of cabbage tree". Indeed there are many cabbage trees in the area.
It is a beautiful area of South Canterbury, lightly populated and just 18 miles southwest of Timaru. It is a farming community in limestone rich country which provides very dramatic landscapes and backdrops. There are some stunning Maori rock drawings located about the district and a 9 hole golf course runs along the main road.
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