• Patrick McBride

Mountain Jade Building SOLD to Council


PHOTO: Google Street View

While Westland District Council maintains its commitment to ensuring that the Carnegie Building has a long-term future through earthquake strengthening and refurbishment, Council has agreed to purchase 41 Weld Street at a lower price than initially offered. A final purchase price of $1.2 million, $300,000 less than first agreed, was negotiated. The settlement date is 22 October 2020.

“We had a healthy debate in the Chambers on Monday, and Council felt comfortable after hearing the reports on the Building Assessment and Earthquake Assessment Review that this purchase will be an investment in the future of the town”, says Mayor Bruce Smith. “Council was not going to buy the building on a whim. We can see the opportunities with the Swimming Pool and the Discovery Centre on this block, and the Pounamu Pathway on the other side of the road. Creating a vibrant entry to town will encourage visitors to head up the road to enjoy the historic buildings on the way to Sunset Point and the improved facilities that Hokitika has to offer.”

“It’s a unique opportunity created by an unforeseen set of circumstances. Council wants to create something really positive. We will have a modern, world-class facility for the community to enjoy, which will enhance social and cultural wellbeing. This is going to encourage growth in the town and provide more things for our young people to do. As visitors increase it will show them that Hokitika is a vibrant and interesting place to stop and stay.”

The public expressed concern about the location of the building and the potential for flooding, however records show that the building has not been known to flood.

A comprehensive Building Report from Matthew Fairmaid, Jeff Evans, and Mark Eason highlighted some design issues that have caused problems such as leaking. These can be easily fixed, and the building is generally considered to be a sound structure and in better condition than has been previously reported. The Earthquake Assessment Review from Simco Consulting stated that the building itself is of sound nature but would require some strengthening work to get a result of 67% National Building Standards. This is considered an acceptable seismic risk by the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering.

Chief Executive Simon Bastion says, “Council will develop concepts for the new building and how the Library and some of the Museum exhibitions will shift into this space. Staff are very positive about the idea and have provided feedback on their vision for the building. We will be discussing this with the community in the near future and through the Long Term Plan process and intend to have the new facility open within the next two years. Council is looking forward to a smooth transition and creating a place that everyone can enjoy.”

“Council intends to ensure that the Carnegie Building will continue to be part of the cultural fabric of the town. We continue to try to get the final funding necessary to strengthen the building and make it suitable as an art gallery and exhibition space, including for museum exhibitions. However, neither the Carnegie Building or Drummond Hall are currently suitable for preserving the artefacts in the Museum collection. It’s a disservice to the collection and its curators if the town doesn’t have somewhere suitable for preservation and display.”