The owner of a heritage building in Masterton says it will likely be demolished following the 6.2 magnitude earthquake felt around the Greater Wellington region yesterday.
The Daniell's Building at the north end of Queen St was occupied by residential tenants on the two upper levels and several retailers on the ground floor.
While a broken window was the only obvious damage on the exterior of the building, fire crews said there was extensive cracking to internal walls which was of "big concern" if another earthquake hit. Tenant and building manager Peter Critchley said once the shaking stopped he checked on people in the other flats.
Another resident, a man who Mr Critchley said suffered from agoraphobia, refused to leave.
The man was holed up inside for about 90 minutes before fire crew coaxed him out.
Former Masterton mayor Garry Daniell, who owns the Daniell's building, said the damage appeared to be superficial but tenants had been evacuated and had found alternative accommodation. It was unlikely the building would be able to be safely tenanted again.
"I suspect the building will need to be demolished.
"I can't see that it would be economic to strengthen it."
Tattooist Jenny Arkas, an employee in one of the ground floor stores - Shock Ink - was working on a client when the shaking started.
"There was this trembling then boom it really hit," Ms Arkas said.
"It was really horrible."
Shock Ink owner Dave Nixon said once everybody was safely outside he went down the road to have a bourbon and Coke to calm his nerves.
The building's safety had been a concern for some time, he said.
Wairarapa civil defence controller Kevin Tunnell said there were no reports of injuries following the quake, which hit shortly before 4pm, but homes and commercial buildings in Masterton had reported minor damage.
People at Riversdale, Castlepoint and Matikona, close to the where the quake was centred, had reported experiencing "intense shaking" but little damage had been found.
Council contractors were assessing roads and bridges last night but it appeared there was no obvious damage caused by the earthquake.
Mauriceville residents John Hart and Karen Monks said their restored villa would need to be restored again following the quake.
"There was no warning, we didn't hear it coming, it was a very big sudden shudder and then a couple of really big shakes.
"There's stuff everywhere, the house is pretty much trashed.
"There's crockery everywhere, the fridge has emptied itself, we've got appliances on the floor, bookcases down, and there's quite a few cracks around the house, about half the rooms in the house have cracks in them."
Masterton Deputy Mayor Graham McClymont was playing golf at Eketahuna - 40km north - at the time of the earthquake.
The shaking was "just incredible", he said.
"As soon as it stopped, we all bolted for the car to head back to Masterton thinking that it would be lying in a pile of rubble - it was that bad," Mr McClymont said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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