Courthouse earthquake assessment under way

Workmen begin drilling boreholes at the Oamaru Courthouse as part of work to establish the cost...
Workmen begin drilling boreholes at the Oamaru Courthouse as part of work to establish the cost of earthquake-strengthening the historic building. Photo by Andrew Ashton.

As engineers began work this week on assessing the cost of repairing the Oamaru Courthouse, the New Zealand Historic Place Trust (NZHPT) said it was confident the Ministry of Justice was doing all it could to save the 129-year-old building.

The ministry commissioned new work to assess the cost of earthquake-strengthening the building after its original estimate of more than $5 million was questioned locally.

NZHPT Otago-Southland area manager Owen Graham said the organisation was working closely with the ministry to ensure the building, which had been associated with the history of the New Zealand justice system for more than 100 years, could be repaired.

"The Oamaru Courthouse is a category 1 registered historic place and has significant heritage value to Oamaru and New Zealand.

"The ministry has a clear awareness of the heritage significance of the building and its importance to the community.

"We are confident this will be taken into consideration when a final plan is drawn up."

Mr Graham said strengthening methods for heritage buildings like the courthouse were "many and varied".

Once the assessment work, which began on Tuesday, was completed, the trust would give advice on strengthening methods.

"We are pleased the Ministry of Justice is exploring a range of options to return the Oamaru Courthouse to its full use, and are doing a thorough assessment of the requirements for strengthening.

"The costs of such work depend on an array of factors and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust is currently working with engineers, architects and the Ministry of Justice to get a clearer idea of what these specific requirements for strengthening will be in regards to the Oamaru Courthouse."

The courthouse was closed last November after it was deemed an earthquake risk.



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