Margaret and Chris Betteridge survey an old layout plan of
the historic Dunedin Prison, while standing in the
courtyard of the decommissioned prison. Photo by Craig
Decisions about the future of the historic Dunedin Prison
will follow the completion of a conservation plan, Dunedin
Prison Trust chairman Stewart Harvey says.
Sydney-based heritage consultants Margaret and Chris
Betteridge spent 18 months on the plan, which they said
yesterday strengthens the case for the trust's plan to create
a heritage prison experience.
Completed two months ago, the conservation plan will be
presented and explained to trust members by the couple at a
Mr Betteridge said researching the plan had not revealed
anything unexpected, but reinforced the value a prison tour
experience could add to Dunedin tourism, and the historic
value of the building.
In Australia, many prisons had become leading tourism
attractions. New Zealand did not have such attractions.
Former prisons in New Zealand had been converted for other
uses, and some played on the prison past for fun, but what
was envisioned for the Dunedin Prison was very different.
As a tourism experience, it would benefit from its proximity
to Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, and the Dunedin Railway
The museum also held former items from the prison, which was
decommissioned in 2007.
Mr Harvey said a 2012 feasibility study needed to be updated,
but he did not expect much to change from its estimate of
$2.6 million for a stage one refurbishment.
The trust would need to raise money from community
organisation grants and the public.
Trust members felt optimistic about the challenge ahead. Once
it was up and running, the attraction would be
self-sufficient, and would not look to ratepayers for
It would be multipurpose, and would hopefully house
businesses as tenants, Mr Harvey said.
Mr Harvey also appeared at the Dunedin City Council's annual
plan hearings this week to update councillors on the project,
and tell them he believed the prison should be at the top of
any list of iconic buildings that would need significant
financial support if the council established an iconic
building project fund.
Such a fund has been suggested for inclusion in the council's
next long-term plan.
- Additional reporting: Debbie Porteous