Contractor building Christchurch's floundering aquatic centre drops court appeal

The Parakiore Recreation and Sports Centre. Photo: Newsline
The Parakiore Recreation and Sports Centre. Photo: Newsline
Building contractors for Christchurch's floundering new sports centre have abandoned an appeal of last year's High Court decision which prevented the firm from pulling out from the project.

It follows a legal standoff between contractor CPB and the government's delivery agency (Rau Paenga) and a mammoth cost blowout for the plagued Parakiore Recreation and Sport Centre.

Construction on the long awaited facility began six years ago and was initially set for completion by October 2021.

But the project has been burdened by constant delays, ballooning costs, and precarious ground conditions.

It all came to a head last year when the contractors and project managers Rau Paenga ended up in court, much to the chagrin of local sports groups and authorities.

CPB launched a bid to terminate the contract in the High Court, after Rau Paenga rejected claims of sizeable cost variations.

The firm estimated the total cost for Parakiore was $696m, more than triple the original contract price agreed on.

The contractors requested extensions to the project, but this was declined by engineers.

In September 2022, CPB claimed for an additional $212m, which ballooned to $439m in 12 months.

Both parties initially agreed on a contract price of $220m.

Justice Geoffrey Venning ruled in favour of Rau Paenga Limited last October, barring CPB from suspending on-site construction works based on its "unsubstantiated claims".

"The parties ultimately blame each other for various breaches of obligations resulting in the delay and increased costs," the court ruling stated.

"Resolution of a number of CPB's claims through the contractual dispute resolution process is ongoing."

Earlier this week, Rau Paenga's chief executive John O'Hagan confirmed CPB had applied to the Court of Appeal over the decision but had since withdrawn its application.

"CPB has continued work on site throughout these proceedings, but putting the legal action behind us allows everyone to refocus on getting Parakiore completed as soon as possible."

But Rau Paenga suggested the projected timelines remain a bone of contention with the agency pushing for construction to be completed before 2025.

"The facility is now about 75 percent complete, but as reported at the end of last year, a gap remains between our desire to see construction finished at the end of this year and CPB's mid-2025 projection," O'Hagan said.

"We will continue to work with CPB to try and close this gap."

One thing which remained unclear was how much the project was ultimately going to cost.

CPB had been paid $220m by the time the matter ended up in court last year and the Christchurch City Council had contributed $147m to the project.

Rau Paenga could not provide a figure on what the project was estimated to cost in total.

"We expect to also be able to provide an update on cost around the end of May."

RNZ has approached CPB for comment.

By Adam Burns