Digging in against the diggers

Hunter Shaw building
Hunter Shaw building

Another South Taranaki public official has pledged to stand in front of the bulldozers to prevent the demolition of an historic but earthquake-prone building.

Yesterday Patea Community Board member Ruth Mackay said she would prevent the demolition of the Hunter Shaw building with her body, just as South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop had vowed to do for the Hawera water tower on Monday.

Both structures have been outed as earthquake prone in council reports and will cost hundreds of thousands to fix.

The South Taranaki District Council has yet to decide how to deal with the tower but it will be up to Patea to guide it on the fate of the Hunter Shaw, closed to the public since last year.

"We need to keep it as a usable facility. We have lost too much as it is," Mrs Mackay said."Ross has said he will be standing in front of the diggers, well, so will I."

A report, commissioned by council, found the building's unreinforced brick walls were prone to collapse during a moderate earthquake.

The meeting room section of the building has a seismic capacity of just 11 per cent of the new building standard (NBS).

All public buildings need to be at least 34 per cent of the NBS.

The remaining parts of the building, Plunket rooms and a flat, reached only 18 per cent of the NBS.

The report ultimately found the meeting room needed an estimated $300,000 worth of structural strengthening work before it could again play host to the public.

While the Plunket rooms and attached residence would need about $285,000 for either a masonry or steel retrofit.

Knocking it down would cost at least $50,000.

Mrs Mackay said knocking it down or leaving it vacant simply didn't make sense because the building was well used until it was closed to the public.

The Hunter Shaw building is listed as a heritage building in the council's district plan.

It is classified as a category two heritage item by Heritage New Zealand.

Mrs Mackay said they were yet to set a firm date for community consultation but she encouraged people to have their say when the time came.

Taranaki Daily News