$80m project brings an end to end 21-year career at Christ's College

Christ's College bursar Colin Sweetman is saying goodbye after 21 years at the school.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

Christ's College bursar Colin Sweetman is saying goodbye after 21 years at the school.

Colin Sweetman was not prepared to say goodbye to his school before signing off the biggest project of his tenure. 

The Christ's College bursar will retire at the end of the month after 21 years with the school, as it completes the last of its $80 million earthquake repair project.

"I deliberately stayed to retire now . . . I leave with the satisfaction of knowing all the repairs are completed," he said.

Many of the school's heritage buildings and facades were able to be saved in an $80m repair project.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

Many of the school's heritage buildings and facades were able to be saved in an $80m repair project.

The school, one of the country's oldest, suffered "minor to moderate" damage to its heritage buildings during the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

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A bursar is traditionally someone who manages finances, but for Sweetman this extended to the school's repair programme.

Steel beams now hold Christ's College's open air block firmly together.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

Steel beams now hold Christ's College's open air block firmly together.

All buildings required some level of remediation, with some demolished while others required only cosmetic repairs.

Strengthening work in the dining hall and tower, opened in 1925, had just been completed, saving the building originally constructed as a memorial for former students and teachers who died during World War I.

The dining hall and tower alone took 16 months and marked the end of the project overall.

Christ's College's dining hall, left and Harper and Julius houses.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

Christ's College's dining hall, left and Harper and Julius houses.

"It's probably one of the most voluminous buildings that stood up in the earthquakes," Sweetman said.

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"The dining hall itself had very little damage but the tower sustained a moderate amount and so we haven't used it since."

Repairs and strengthening work had also focussed on reaching 100 per cent of the building standard, combining the retained heritage features with modern additions.

"The words used were painstaking, I think that's fair enough – It's trying to retain the heritage values but also put the modern engineering in it.

"The [dining hall] tower has had a very modern, brand new [fit out] . . . but, where possible, we've retained the heritage features like original wooden heritage doors, flooring and fire places."

Sweetman said most of the cost of repairs was covered by insurance, with the school reserves making up the shortfall.

"The board was very keen to make sure a couple of our heritage buildings were done to a very good standard and fully restored."

The school's sights would be set on fundraising for a new project, but for Sweetman it would be "moving on to home" to focus on his classic Ford Mustang collection.

At an assembly in March, head prefect Ben Marshall-Lee thanked Sweetman for his contribution and said his work overseeing the school's restoration had "created a significant legacy now and into the future."

Sweetman said the repair project was one of many highlights in his time at Christ's College, "operating in the background" as its bursar.

"The school certainly looks significantly different than it did 21 years ago when I walked in the gate."

 - The Press

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