Lights go out as tenants leave crumbling building

ONLY A FEW LEFT:  The block of flats on The Terrace which may have to be demolished.
ONLY A FEW LEFT: The block of flats on The Terrace which may have to be demolished.

Only a small number of residents remain in the crumbling Housing New Zealand apartment block in central Wellington.

All of the 131 tenants had agreed to move and the Gordon Wilson complex on The Terrace should be empty by the end of today – nearly a fortnight after a seven-day notice to vacate was issued.

An engineer's report had shown the complex was corroding, and large slabs of exterior concrete could fall during a quake or strong wind.

Although otherwise structurally sound, the building may have to be demolished.

Out of the 81 flats, tenants of 70 had been relocated as of last night, a Housing New Zealand spokeswoman said. "They have been rehoused and none have refused to go."

Most tenants would be relocated to state houses in Wellington, but others had requested to go to Auckland, Hastings and Levin.

At least one tenant was sent to Porirua and two asked to go to Petone, she said.

The cost of relocating the tenants had not been calculated.

"Our priority has been to get people relocated, [and] get them shifted with the least anxiety as possible."

Housing New Zealand Wellington tenancy service manager Jackie Pivac said it was known work was required to remove loose concrete on the building since 2010.

Other significant maintenance work was also needed and engineers advised structural inspections every one to two years.

It was one of these inspections which found the new issues.

Contact Bronwyn Torrie
Health reporter
Twitter: @brontorrie

The Dominion Post