Building's end marked with a karakia

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 12:58 25/01/2013
Smiths Building
Peter Drury/FAIRFAX NZ

Last goodbye: The ceremoney on top of Waikato Hospital’s soon to be demolished Smith Building

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The Smith Building was already dead when senior Waikato Hospital managers, former staff and current Members of Parliament stood on it's seventh floor rooftop to say goodbye.

The final spark of life was wheeled out of it's 50-year-old walls late Thursday when children in ward 26 were moved to the Elizabeth Rothwell Building, making way for a full-scale demolition.

The building is a casualty of the $500 million Waikato DHB rebuilding programme at the Waiora Waikato Hospital campus in Hamilton.

An adjacent two-storey building, the oldest on site, is following its neighbour into history.

Smith's end was marked with karakia, prayer and song early Friday morning.

While the ceremony on the roof was described as a blessing, it was also a funeral for what has been a valued piece of Waikato society for the past 50 years.

Among those who spoke about Smith was former charge nurse Robin Steed, who recalled memories from the 15 years she spent in the halls and rooms under her feet.

They were among the happiest of her career, she said.

''If these walls could talk, what would they tell us?Perhaps it's just as well they don't.''

Ms Steed said they could tell stories about the many thousands of patients admitted - those who were supported through acute illness; those that died peacefully with family members at their bedside, and those that received
''wonderful'' and ''innovative'' treatment.

''For staff, we can reflect on the many friendships and lifelong partnerships that were formed and endured well beyond our Smith days,'' she said.

''The building itself has been a grand building. It was modern and new, and it will be replaced by modern and new. It's journey through to old age has not been smooth. In the early part, it was, when services stayed in one place for a long period, but in old age this building has had a frenzy of services.''

Auckland's Ward Demolition will use a hydraulic ''nibbler'' to dismantle Smith piece by piece from the top down.

The $9.41m job should be done by May, making way for the $130m Meade Clinical Centre to be finished.

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