Some staff opt not to return to Wellington regional council's quake-damaged building

Some Greater Wellington Regional Council staff have opted not to return to the their quake-damaged Wellington building.
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Some Greater Wellington Regional Council staff have opted not to return to the their quake-damaged Wellington building.

Some Greater Wellington Regional Council staff have opted not to return to the council's earthquake-damaged Wellington office.

The council's two-storey waterfront headquarters at Wellington's CentrePort sustained significant damage in this month's 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and has been off limits to the public since.

Council spokesman Stephen Heath said some staff in key departments would return to the relatively unaffected first floor of the Shed 39 building on Thursday, with staff from other departments due to return by the end of next week.

But some had opted not to return at all because of concerns over the building's safety. They would continue to work off-site, Heath said.

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The building's ground floor sustained significant damage during the quake, with subsided land caused by liquefaction resulting in the floor detaching from the walls in some areas. Some interior panels also cracked and buckled.

Although engineers had assured the council its building was safe to enter, returning to the offices was optional, Heath said.

"But what I think will happen is that, over time, that apprehension will start to dissipate and it will eventually go away."

The organisation's senior management team had been in the building since the November 14 quake, but other staff had worked from home, in the council's other regional offices or in offices of partners and clients.

With space in Wellington at a premium, the council had converted its chamber into office space, with the large debating table replaced by rows of desks.

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Extensive work was under way to repair the damaged ground floor, and it was unlikely that work would be completed before next year, Heath said.

There had been some disruption to council services during the weeks since the quake, including delayed meetings and postponed work.

But Heath was satisfied with how the organisation had carried on through the uncertain period.

"We're pretty well back to business as usual. During the emergency, we've hardly missed a beat."

 - Stuff

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