Rotting buildings could become tourist attraction

Last updated 05:00 30/07/2012
ROSS GIBLIN/The Dominion Post

Miramar enthusiasts Alex Funke, left, Allan Jenkins and Allan Probert want to restore the old shipwright building and shed 8 store and workshop at Shelley Bay.

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Two abandoned and rotting buildings at Shelly Bay should be restored and turned into a tourist attraction, Enterprise Miramar Peninsula says.

The Shipwrights building and Shed 8 store building in Shelly Bay Rd were used by the Defence Force until the end of World War II. They were left derelict when decommissioned in 1995.

Since then, the steel has corroded, the weatherboards have rotted, and the buildings have been slowly decaying.

Enterprise Miramar Peninsula spokesman Allan Probert, also a trustee of the new Peninsula Community Trust, said he hoped the buildings could be passed over to the trust to be restored.

"We care about these buildings, we care about Wellington and about the historical buildings. We believe we can do this and give back an asset [to the council] they haven't had to pay for."

The restoration would cost $1.1 million to $2.4m over 10 to 15 years, and Mr Probert was confident the trust would be able to raise the money privately.

He said the area would become the gateway to the 76-hectare reserve being created on the peninsula which would include walkways, cycle tracks and restoration of the historical Fort Dorset.

The development of a military museum, a film museum and a sculpture park have also been mooted for the reserve.

The restoration of the Shelly Bay buildings would complement the reserve development, he said.

In 2007, the council commissioned a report on the condition of the buildings. It recommended immediate stabilisation of the "critically endangered buildings", including the Shipwrights building.

However, while the land was not owned by local Maori, the council was reluctant to act until it knew what iwi wanted to do with their adjoining land, he said.

"There isn't any dispute these buildings are important . . . but because the buildings are right alongside iwi land they can't do anything until they know what the iwi wants to do.

"What we're saying is we're not subject to the politics of it. My view is these buildings will fall down if something isn't done."

Council spokesman Richard McLean said the future of Shelly Bay was complex and the council was talking to the Port Nicholson Settlement Trust. "There are a number of interested parties involved. There are also potentially large sums of money involved and with any decision relating to these buildings, we're wanting to take a considered approach."

Film-maker Alex Funke said the buildings, including Shed 8's distinctive saw-tooth roof, offered many opportunities for business ventures. "It's about re-purposing the buildings to give them an alternative new life. Inside, there is marvellous light, marvellous volume of space."

The trust hoped the public would have ideas for the buildings' future use.


  • The area was fortified following the Russian Scare of the 1880s.
  • From about 1907 to 1920 it was used as a general military store and barracks.
  • During World War II it was used as a naval base.
  • From 1946 it was used by the air force, however it was closed in 1954.
  • It was decommissioned by the New Zealand Defence Force in 1995 and was transferred to council ownership in 2005.

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Contact Sophie Speer
Culture and Capital Day reporter
Twitter: @sophie_speer

- The Dominion Post


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