Council mulling buying courthouse, ministry lease

The Waitaki District Council has not ruled out buying the historic Oamaru courthouse, restrengthening it and leasing it back to the Ministry of Justice.

Land Information New Zealand is still considering the disposal of the former Oamaru courthouse, in line with the requirements of the Public Works Act and the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act.

''We're having a very good look at whether we [the council] should purchase the building,'' Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said.

The Waitaki District Council had identified ''some good advantages'' of owning the 132-year-old building, but it did not want ownership to have a significant impact on ratepayers, Mr Kircher said.

''We want to make sure that if we take it over and strengthen it, that we can get a return,'' he said.

Leasing it back to the Ministry of Justice for only a few days each month would not be enough and the council would have to explore other uses for its ongoing use.

Mr Kircher stressed the importance of retaining court services in Oamaru.

There had already been ''informal'' talks with Ngai Tahu and the next step for council would be to meet representatives from the Oamaru legal community.

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