Safety of columns still not resolved

The Wachner Pl Celtic Columns of Wisdom are dividing opinion. PHOTO: TONI MCDONALD
The Wachner Pl Celtic Columns of Wisdom are dividing opinion. PHOTO: TONI MCDONALD
A decision on the safety level of Invercargill’s Celtic Columns of Wisdom is still in doubt, the city’s chief engineer, Russell Pearson, says.

After obtaining a set of construction drawings on November 14, Mr Pearson was able to confirm he was satisfied the foundations met safety standards.

But Mr Pearson told the Invercargill City Council earlier this week the drawings had identified a potential issue with the connection point where the columns were attached to the foundations and more assessment was necessary.

"I guess I’ve got one step forward in terms of the foundations, but we have some other connections we have to do some work on identifying if the strengthening may or may not be required for the columns."

Based on the drawings he had obtained, engineers had recommended they should still be considered less than the minimum National Building Standard level of 34%.

"However, we still need to work through a bit more detail about how the columns are connected to the concrete foundations."

At an earlier council meeting, Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark questioned the safety of the city’s Wachner Pl Celtic Columns of Wisdom.

But it was roundly rejected by city architect Bob Simpson, who said the mayor was spreading unnecessary fear.

It also emerged the Invercargill City Council had no record of the columns being checked after the collapse of Stadium Southland.

The four Dee St columns, along with other constructions, should have been inspected in 2014, after their design engineer, Tony Major, was expelled from the Institute of Professional Engineers for his part in the Southland Stadium collapse in 2010.

The council was now working to confirm if an assessment was completed after 2014.

Mr Clark said earlier this month he had been advised the pillars were a possible earthquake risk, as they were under the 34% recommended by the building code.

By Toni McDonald