Set in beautiful Keirunga Gardens, this cultural centre provides a home for the learning and practice of many arts, crafts and leisure pursuits.
The Keirunga Gardens Arts & Craft Society Inc. provides community facilities for art and learning, and plays a vital role in the regional arts sector. High occupancy and effective administration of these facilities result in financial success and longevity for The Society. History – The Birth of our Cultural Centre.
The Keirunga Gardens Arts & Crafts Society Inc. largely owes its existence to two men, George Nelson and Frank Bacon.
“Keirunga” (‘The Place on The Hill’) was built in 1907 by Mr Robert Holt for the sum of $1,000. The first occupants, Mr and Mrs Reginald Gardiner named the house “Stadacona”. All the timber, heart kauri and totara, and other building materials were dragged up a track, now Joll Road, by bullock dray. Mr Charles Ord Tanner purchased the property in 1919 and he renamed it “Keirunga”. Mr George Nelson bought Keirunga in 1928 and lived there until his death, at the age of 93, in 1964. Mr Nelson was a man of immense achievement and far sightedness. He supervised the development of Keirunga’s 17 hectares of parkland and gardens. With the assistance of up to five gardeners, Mr Nelson carried out drainage work, path formations and rock work. He planted a huge variety of plants and shrubs, many of which he propagated himself.
The Arts & Crafts Society
Mr Nelson generously gifted “Keirunga” to the Havelock North Borough Council. For two years “Keirunga” was unused, but an enthusiastic group, led by Frank Bacon, approached the Council in 1966 with the suggestion that “Keirunga” be developed as a cultural centre. The formation of the “Keirunga Gardens Society” in 1967 guided the restoration of the homestead and the establishment of the cultural centre complex. A new workshop was completed in 1976, followed in 1986 by the magnificent two story building for a pottery and artists’ studio. Together with the original “Keirunga Homestead” buildings, the new “Nelson Room (Theatre)”, and the “Frank Bacon Studio”, have provided excellent working facilities in a beautiful environment, for the various groups and members of the Society.
The Keirunga Gardens Arts & Craft Society Inc. provides community facilities for art and learning, and plays a vital role in the regional arts sector. High occupancy and effective administration of these facilities result in financial success and longevity for The Society.
Grouped around a central courtyard, the original Keirunga Homestead buildings, the Nelson Theatre and Frank Bacon Studio provide facilities for the various indoor activities. In addition, the courtyard and gardens provide idyllic settings for outdoor festivals, concerts and drama productions.
The public park, which comprises 17 hectares of formal gardens and parkland, and includes the Keirunga Park Railway, is maintained by the Hastings District Council.
The Keirunga Gardens Arts and Crafts Society Incorporated is an incorporated society registered in the New Zealand Companies office at www.societies.govt.nz under Society number: CC29940