Courthouse reopening delay
The Oamaru courthouse will not be reopened this year as was hoped when it was closed last year due to earthquake fears.
An Opus engineering report to the Justice Ministry showed it met only 13 per cent of earthquake-strengthening standards and posed a significant threat to occupants.
The ministry closed it on November 30, along with five others around the country, until strengthening work was done.
The work was expected to take up to 12 months to complete but general manager of district courts Tony Fisher said last week long-term options, including remediation costs, would not be considered until later this year.
He said the building remained a risk to the public. "We know [it's a risk] because we did a seismic strength assessment of all our courts following the earthquake in Christchurch last year."
He said the ministry had been able to maintain services in affected communities by transferring work to nearby courts and operating from alternative venues. "That has gone well and it's shown us that we have flexibility in how and where we offer services."
In Oamaru, access to counter services had been restored by working with Work and Income New Zealand to operate from their premises. "And we're holding civil, family and criminal hearings at the Oamaru Opera House.
"Now that interim services are in place and working well, our priority is strengthening buildings and returning permanent services to the areas with the heaviest workloads. Getting Christchurch back on its feet is obviously a key priority and in the last year we've invested nearly $10 million into earthquake recovery operations there."
A ministry spokesperson said the updated cost of upgrading the Oamaru courthouse had not been determined yet. At the time of the closure, it was estimated it would cost $350,000 to strengthen the building to a minimum of 67 per cent, the most expensive of the six buildings.
It was discovered last month work to strengthen the Masterton courthouse would cost $3.5m.
- © Fairfax NZ News