Quake risk closes Hawke's Bay opera house

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 15:12 04/03/2014
Napier Opera House

Shut down: Hawke's Bay Opera House has been closed because it is too much of a quake risk.

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The curtain has suddenly come down on the Hawke's Bay Opera House, with engineers saying the building is earthquake-prone.
The Hastings theatre has been shut during the testing.

Are you a ticket-holder to an opera house event and does this affect you? Email news@dompost.co.nz

Engineers are worried that the 12-metre-high side walls of the theatre could collapse on an audience during a quake.

It came as a surprise to Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule when he was told last week.

The council spent $11.2 million structurally upgrading the complex between 2004 and 2007.

A 2013 report said the building was safe but further work needed to be done, Yule said.

The council commissioned invasive testing of the Hastings St building.

Yule said the council was acting swiftly on the new information.

Wellington City Council staff would arrive in Hawke's Bay tomorrow to offer advice and share their experience in dealing with the quake-prone Wellington Town Hall, he said.

The theatre will be closed until mid-May.

"Safety of theatregoers, staff and performers is paramount and the board was united in opting for closure," Hawke's Bay Opera House board chairman Chris O'Reilly said.

The five businesses that operate from the building will continue to operate.

Yule said there was no immediate danger to Opera Kitchen, Ticketek, Dish Catering, HB Winegrowers and Hutchinson Furnishers. Engineers were concerned about the theatre part of the building only.

The council owns the building and funding any remedial work falls on the council and Hastings ratepayers.

In 2011, ratepayers were asked to put an extra $1.5 million into the building over seven years to cover increasing operating costs.

Engineers will have a final report to the council by March 21.

People who have bought tickets to upcoming events are asked to contact Ticketek to gain a refund or book at an alternative venue.

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