Editorial: A major stadium lapse

Last updated 05:00 18/07/2014

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OPINION: Tony Major has been named and shamed by his own industry body - but is this the end of the matter for Stadium Southland?

It's not as though stoic Southlanders are into a blame game - but all along the question has been who is responsible for the stadium collapsing. Now that Major has been biffed by his own peers, have we got an answer?

Even though Major has not spoken publicly to defend himself, a spokesman for him said the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand decision was not a fair reflection of his culpability in this matter.

So where do Southlanders go now to get the answer?

The IPENZ expelled Major as a member, citing breaches of the organisation's code of ethics. The report is damning.

It says Major failed to take responsibility, contradicted his earlier submissions and tried to lay the blame on anyone other than himself. But does the responsibility for the collapse of the stadium rest solely with this guy?

The IPENZ investigation committee was appalled at the apparent lack of responsibility Major assumed for the work he had carried out in 1999-2000. The stadium he had designed required extensive structural modification during construction and collapsed 10 years later. A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment report in 2012 says the roof collapsed due to factors including the heavy snowfall, construction defects, design-detailing issues and problems with remedial works undertaken during construction.

Major's responsibility was to oversee and sign off construction and he should have picked this up. Instead, he says he was unable to inspect remedial work relating to work trusses and he was assured work was carried out correctly. He relied on this and he accepts he should not have done that.

A hearing committee felt he had shown aspects of incompetence and negligence in his role as an engineer. His way of doing business, and apparent lack of understanding of the Building Code and required paperwork, rightly call into question his competence to do this job, and in fact any others.

And so a key player in the stadium catastrophe has been named. But one head on a stick does not answer lingering questions about apparent shortcuts made to lessen costs, and where ultimate responsibility for those decisions lies.

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- The Southland Times

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