150 Defence Force staff to leave Porirua

ANDREA O'NEIL
Last updated 17:17 01/02/2013

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One hundred and fifty jobs will be lost from Porirua when the New Zealand Defence Force leaves the city this year.

About 150 communication and information systems staff will relocate from Porirua to other locations in Wellington later this year, a Defence spokesperson has said.

Porirua-based Defence Force staff currently work out of 1 Walton Leigh Ave, the Cityfitness gym building.

''The Porirua lease is expiring and Defence is taking the opportunity to consolidate its Wellington staff, and make better use of its existing buildings,'' the spokesperson said.

''Nobody is losing their job as a result, and Porirua staff have been aware of this move two years.''

The move has been harshly criticised by Mana MP Kris Faafoi and Porirua mayor Nick Leggett.

Two days earlier, a scathing report on Defence Force cost-cutting was released by auditor-general Lyn Provost.

Improving the Defence Force's IT infrastructure is another reason for the move, said the spokesperson.

Mr Faafoi and Mr Leggett said they were appalled by the move.

''The Defence Force has had a presence in Porirua for 30 years in a building well equipped for its needs.

''News of the departure certainly feels like an assault on Porirua,'' Mr Faafoi said.

He said he doubted the department would save money by leaving a low-rent building, especially considering the move would likely incur millions of dollars in relocation costs.

Many businesses are moving into Porirua because of its low commercial rents and good regional location, Mr Leggett said.

''The Government seem to be going in the other direction.''

Porirua cannot afford to lose such a significant workforce, he said. ''These are skilled jobs and really I feel for the staff concerned. We need them and I appeal to the decision makers to think about this carefully.''

The mayor and MP are seeking a meeting at the highest level where they hope to persuade Defence to stay in Porirua.

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