The first Takapuna War Memorial Hall was opened in October 1953, as a joint venture between the Takapuna Borough Council and the Takapuna Returned Services Association (R.S.A.). That building was on Gibbons Road, at the rear of the then Takapuna Council Chambers and offices on Lake Road. The two-storey hall and other premises were designed by A. and H. Bartlett and built by Campbell Construction Co. Ltd for 29,470 pounds. Facing the sea, the building also included a billiards room, bowlers' quarters, library and kitchen. It also had separate accommodation for a caretaker.
The first Community Services building in Takapuna was the result of five years of work and planning by four community organisations: the North Shore Women’s Club, the Plunket Society, the Takapuna Branch of the New Zealand League for the Hard of Hearing and the Takapuna Old Folks Association (TOFA). The Takapuna City Council managed the building project and its construction. The architects and engineers were Stephenson and Turner, while the contractor was also Campbell Construction. The eventual cost to Council was $108,000 and the building was opened on The Strand on 22nd October 1970 by the then Governor General Sir Arthur Porritt. All four societies leased parts of the building from the Takapuna City Council. TOFA’s lease, for example, was for 33 years to 30th September 2003, with two rights to renewal to 2069. Their rent as of 1970 was a nominal $2 per annum.
Half the ground floor was taken by TOFA, with a library, reading room, lounge and a large hall. The League for the Hard of Hearing took the smallest area with only 900 of the total 3,800 sq. feet on the ground floor, including a teaching room. The Plunket Society took the rest of the ground floor and had a clinic, waiting room and committee rooms. The Women’s Club had the whole first floor, with a lounge, library, committee room and auditorium.
The North Shore Women’s Club was incorporated on 13 May 1957 and dissolved on 17th June 2011. The Takapuna branch of the New Zealand League for the Hard of Hearing was formed in the late 1950s and the Hearing Association North Shore Branch was incorporated on 13th February 1981. That branch was dissolved on 28th March 2013. TOFA had been established in 1958 and registered as an incorporated society on 15th June 1965. From 3rd July 1972 it is now the Takapuna Senior Citizens Association. Plunket still has its Strand Clinic next to Takapuna Library.
The current Community Services building was opened on 7th July 1986 and is managed by the Takapuna North Community Trust, which is funded by the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board of Auckland Council.
‘Paddocks to place, the story behind the Mary Thomas Centre, Takapuna and much more ….’. has been written and researched by Richard Howard with contributions from Ruth Greenaway, and was published in 2019 by Auckland North Community Development Inc. (ANCAD). Mary Thomas will be well-known to many as the wife and mayoress to long-serving Takapuna Mayor Fred Thomas (who served from 1965 to 1986), and the Centre, which opened in 1986, is named in her honour. The 30-page pamphlet includes a two-page tribute to her.
Again, this centre was another joint venture, including the Takapuna City Council, the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind and St Anne’s Club for the Blind (1968 to 2013). In 1996 the North Shore City Council took over ownership of the entire centre building.
The whole area including the southern side of The Strand and all of Gibbons Road was formerly part of Patuone’s land grant, of which I have written previously.
By David Verran