Aucklands Orange Hall
Auckland’s Orange Hall – a community Gem.
The Orange Hall was built in a number of stages starting 1922 by A. Sinclair O’Connor and completed the following year for the Orange Lodge which was established in Auckland in 1840.
The hall was owned by the Auckland Orange Hall Society which among the duties of the lodge’s trustees was “to promulgate the principles and further the practice of the Protestant Religion and to afford its members the means of social intercourse, spiritual improvement and rational recreation”.
The hall trustees certainly achieved that aim as over the years, the Orange Hall has been the hub of the Auckland dance scene for decades. It representing a big chunk of the city’s social history.
Simply known to its many patrons as “The Orange” it was immortalised in the 1958 Peter Cape song Down the Hall on Saturday Night with the line, “We’re as slick as the Orange in Auckland”. Before the advent of television and other forms of entertainment in the latter half of last century, ballroom dancing was a popular and regular social event and the Orange’s dance floor, thought to be sprung and made of tawa wood, was regarded as the best in Auckland.
The Orange’s heyday was in the 1940s, and especially during World War II, with the dance hall packed and queues stretching down Newton Rd. In an article in the New Zealand Herald in 1987, Brian Kearney wrote that, “the Orange opened its doors six nights a week to the crowds queuing four deep down its steep steps and along Newton Road”.
The supper room below the dance hall area catered for the crowds and even up to the late 1980s still served sandwiches, cakes, tea and coffee. No alcohol was allowed on the premises.
The advent of late night closing and bands in pubs signalled the beginning of the end of an era for dance halls and 1987 saw the “last waltz” in the Orange Ballroom. In subsequent years it was occupied by the Performing Arts School – who repainted its trademark interior orange colour cream – and in more recent years, by the City Christian Church.
The church relocated to another building last year, prompting the decision by the Auckland Orange Hall Society to put the property up for sale.
The Orange Order now uses other premises for its meetings and the property is surplus to its requirements.
The hall was sold in 2011.