Hall gets earthquake pass mark

$50,000 hall quake-strengthening passes mark

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 08/11/2012
Rongotai College
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ

SAFE SITE: Year 10 students Tom Oolders, Thomas Isaako and Oscar McLaren in Rongotai College's newly earthquake-strengthened hall.

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Urgent $500,000 quake-strengthening work on Rongotai College's school hall will be completed just in time for it to be used for NCEA exams.

When pupils sit down to the first big exam, level 1 English, on Monday, the 50-year-old building will be considered 100 per cent code-compliant.

The Education Ministry aims to have all school buildings meeting at least 67 per cent of the code for long-term viability, with a minimum legal requirement of 33 per cent.

Even before the Christchurch earthquakes, the hall was found to meet less than 10 per cent of the new building code, principal Kevin Carter said. "This one certainly didn't come anywhere near the building code."

Engineers planning the refurbishment highlighted the potential for large roof beams to fall in, even during a small earthquake.

But when the school's gym burned down at Christmas 2010, the strengthening work had to be deferred so the hall could be used as a temporary gym.

Now, after about 12 weeks' work, the hall ceilings have been braced with large steel beams, the stage and foundations strengthened, and the interior and exterior walls relined.

The construction team had a firm deadline for the work, because the hall is the only place large enough to seat exam classes.

Final touchup jobs, including new floors, will be completed after exams.

The college was now almost completely compliant with Wellington City Council's building code, Mr Carter said.

All other buildings, except an old hall that was closed and due to be demolished, met the code.

Contact Jody O'Callaghan
Education reporter
Email: jody.o'callaghan@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @miss_jodyo

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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