Tītahi Bay Marines Hall memorial project

The site of the building is set to become a community space.


Here's what's happened so far

The Marines Hall was built in Titahi Bay during World War II (1943, to be precise) as a recreation hall for the 1500 US Marines stationed in the area. The building was used for its original purpose for less than a year before the Marines returned home.

The building became a local government asset in 1954 and was used as a place for the community to meet and celebrate. In 1976 Porirua Little Theatre occupied the building and called this building home until 2012.

In 2012 the hall was deemed structurally unsafe and was closed. A year later the building was also deemed at earthquake risk. Porirua City Council voted in 2018 that consent be sought for it to be demolished.

Several groups looked into securing funding to restore the hall, but the building work required was too extensive. To restore the building, would require (as of 2018) $2 million.

The Marines Hall in Titahi Bay has stood at the heart of the community for over 75 years and has a special place in the memories of local whānau.

In July 2021, the concept plan for the community space to replace the hall was shared with the community. Many aspects of the commemorative community space are designed with the history of the hall behind it. The full design rationale is below. We are also taking the opportunity to replace the toilet facilities as part of the works to the site.

The opportunity to provide feedback closed on 27 July, 2021.

Some aspects of the concept plan will be changing as a result of what the community said.

UPDATE February 2022: The hall has been demolished, ground cleared, and updated design work is well under way to build a commemorative park. We will share more information soon.

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UPDATE 9 NOVEMBER 2021: Media release and FAQs

Titahi Bay Marines Hall nears demolition

Titahi Bay’s Marines Hall is set to be demolished in the coming weeks, after Porirua City Council satisfied resource consent conditions to do so.

A contract has been signed with Quality Demolition, who have already started investigative works and will carry out the demolition.

The building, constructed by US Marines based at a nearby camp in 1942, has been unused since 2012, when it was deemed unstructurally unsafe and unsanitary.

The Council voted in 2014 to demolish it.

Quality Demolition contracts manager Simon Miller says this is a building he knows well and while sad to see it coming down, is excited to be involved in the next phase of the site.

"I was brought up in the Bay and can remember the Marines Hall as a picture theatre back in the day and then later on there were plays, where you could take a chilly bin and some food in - it was great.

"But life goes on and I think what’s planned will be really good for the area."

Quality Demolition will salvage and recycle as much material as they can from the former Marines Hall for future use.

Porirua Parks and City Services Operations Manager Mark Hammond says the Council has been through a thorough process to get to this point.

"We consulted with the community at many different stages along the way, including last year over what should be on this spot once the building is gone.

"We’ve now met the requirements of the resouce consent, so the next phase can get under way and we’re one step closer to having a commemorative space that the Titahi Bay, and Porirua, community can take pride in.

"We will soon have an updated design plan to share and hope to get started on the cleared site in the new year."

Plans include different seating areas, shade, more vegetation and multiple features that reflect the heritage of the hall.

Ngāti Toa and an independent archaeologist have been engaged as part of the project.

A new modern toilet block will also be put in, on the same spot as the current block.

During demolition and construction of the commemorative space, the library, car park and all shops will remain open and accessible, but there may be some minor diversions in place.

FAQs

Who is demolishing the building?

Wellington-based company Quality Demolition have been appointed to undertake the demolition works. Some of their team members have direct links to the hall, one of them remembering when it was a picture theatre.

Ngāti Toa and an independent archaeologist have also been engaged as part of the project.

Will the library/retail area/car park still be open as usual during the demolition works?

Yes. The Titahi Bay Library and the retail area will be open as usual during the construction works. The parallel parks beside the hall will be coned off and be unavailable for public use but the rest of the car park remains open as usual. There may be some other diversions from time to time but these are not expected to be for long.

How long will the works take?

How long the works on site to remove the hall is dependent on what level of (if any) asbestos is in the building. The more of the building that has asbestos, the longer the works are expected to take. At this stage, the works on site is expected to take between 2-5 weeks.

How was it decided the building could be demolished?

In 2012 the hall was deemed structurally unsafe and was closed. A year later the building was also deemed at earthquake risk. Porirua City Council voted in 2018 that consent be sought for it to be demolished.

Several groups looked into securing funding to restore the hall, but the building work required was too extensive. To restore the building, would require (as of 2018) $2 million.

Porirua City Council submitted a resource consent application to demolish the Marines Hall and two independent commissioners granted the consent in February 2021 following hearings late in 2020.

Is anything being salvage or recycled from the building?

Quality Demolition will salvage and recycle as much material as they can for future use. In addition, the three kowhai at the side of the hall will be protected to include in the plans for the site.

The toilet block is horrible. Is the toilet block included in these works?

Yes, the toilet block is going to be replaced with something more modern and this will be next year. The new facility will go in the same place and will compliment the commemorative community space.

Where can I find out more about the Titahi Bay Marines Hall?

To capture the significance of the hall, a heritage consultant was engaged to log the artifacts and attributes of the building. This valuable resource will be made publicly available for years to come. It is currently being made into a book and will available at all Porirua City Libraries. There is also a number of publications on the history of the hall and the US Marines during the time they were in Titahi Bay. These resources are also available at the Porirua City Library.

When can I see what the commemorative community space is going to look like?

The plan for the commemorative community space is currently being updated following feedback from the community earlier this year. The updated plan is expected to be shared and implemented next year.

What are the drivers behind the specific aspects of the commemorative community space?

The commemorative landscape proposal recognises that the removal of the Marines Hall will also remove a memento of times spent in that building watching movies and performance. Therefore, the design evokes the halls presence and volume, while playfully extending its role as a gathering and performance space.

The design recognises that the hall and the proposed commemorative garden exist in the context of Ngati Toa’s rohi.

At the entrance end of the hall, the outline of the original walls and roof are conveyed through a simple steel structure, conveying a sense of the building, while forming an entrance to the commemorative garden from the existing shops. Native timber from the hall’s trusses is proposed as detailing within these, playfully carrying through building material from past to present and future.

The height change over the site is accommodated through a series of low, generously wide steps, oriented toward the casual stage and library. These are covered in outdoor all-weather carpet, creating casual seating reminiscent of being inside a building while within the commemorative garden.

At the library end of the space, overhead structures evoke the volume of the building while providing a permeable canopy over a timber platform that could be used as an occasional stage. Light passing through the steel structure overhead projects patterns onto the ground, reminiscent of projections from the sites past as a cinema, while conveying narratives of local people and place.

The bench seats are also ‘lantern boxes’, lit from within, with patterns cut in the sides. These will carry local narratives, acting as a series of storytelling devices as well as seating.

Transitioning into the reserves open space is an adaptable play and wananga space, close to the library, with a permeable soft surface.

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