Home' Greymouth Star : May 20th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
The cost of closing Oamaru’s
historic courthouse has been more
than double what an Oamaru-
commissioned report says it would
cost to strengthen it to 100%
Figures obtained under the Official
Information Act show the Ministry of
Justice has spent about $600,000 on
temporary court facilities, maintaining
the closed courthouse and starting a
Assessment reports and a
strengthening analysis of the 132-year-
old building adds another $200,000.
Independent reports commissioned
by Oamaru lawyer Bill Dean estimated
it would have cost up to $350,000
to strengthen the building to new-
The Oamaru courthouse, with a
rateable value of $600,000, was closed
in November 2011 because it was
deemed an earthquake risk.
At the time, the Ministry of Justice
said it would be strengthened within
Another report then estimated
it would cost up to $6 million to
strengthen the Oamaru stone building
— a c ost ridiculed and disputed by the
Mr Dean lobbied to have the historic
Oamaru Courthouse kept in use,
going so far as to fund an independent
engineering and sur veying report
which disputed the Government ’s $5m
to $6m cost estimate for strengthening
He had D unedin engineer Lou
Robinson and a local sur veyor assess
the building and cost strengthening it
They came up with a figure of
$300,000 to $350,000, Mr Dean said.
The independent findings also
revealed that the issues with the
building were not “hugely structural”
and largely cosmetic, he said.
Those reports were sent to the
Ministry of Justice in 2013.
“I could see absolutely no reason why
Lou’s report would not be accepted,”
he said. “(But) that just seems to have
The Ministry of Justice also revised
its assessment, and the cost of
earthquake strengthening came in at
between $1m and $2m, still too high
for a court open for business less than
one day each week, on average, they
As a result, ownership of the central
Oamaru building was transferred to
Land Information New Zealand for
management and disposal.
The 132-year-old Oamaru
courthouse was designed by the
noted architectural partnership
Forrester and Lemon. It has been
described as their finest work and
the “jewel in the crown of provincial
Since August last year, Oamaru court
proceedings have been carried out in
the considerably less salubrious setting
of a Portacom building in an Oamaru
The temporary facility in Humber
Street, on which the ministry has
already spent about $400,000, has been
problematic since its opening.
Space issues once forced some
lawyers to inter view clients in the
car park and probation officers to see
c lients in their personal vehicles.
The temporary court facility has since
had additional space added.
It was also temporarily closed earlier
this year after air quality problems
allegedly made staff unwell.
“ It was just a nightmare and it
remains so,” Mr Dean said of the
He believes the old courthouse could
have been strengthened “very quickly,
possibly without even having to leave
Now, he said, the cost to the
ministry would be far more than
what it would have cost to have
the building properly assessed and
“They ’ve backed themselves into a
corner,” he said.
The Ministry of Justice announced
last year it was committed to keeping
court ser vices in Oamaru.
Ministry of Justice Commercial
and Property general manager Fraser
Gibbs said the ministry’s staff were still
working through options.
“In the meantime, these services
will continue to be provided at the
court facility on Humber Street,” he
Mr Gibbs said he was aware of the
estimated costs of restrengthening
provided by Mr Dean.
“However, we took advice from
a panel of engineering experts,
including those with specialist
knowledge of Oamaru buildings,
when we established the appropriate
cost of strengthening the courthouse
building,” Mr Gibbs said.
— Otago Daily Times
Strengthening cour thouse half closure’s cost
PICTURE: Otago Daily Times
The Thames Street courthouse in Oamaru.
6 - Wednesday, May 20, 2015
as hunter’s wife
Marilyn Edge is preparing to
say goodbye to husband Murray
after the hunter’s body was found
near Timaru on Monday.
She hopes to know more about
his death after his post-mortem
Mrs Edge said her husband’s
body was found in an open area
about 40 minutes inland from
Timaru, on Monday morning.
Mr Edge was hunting with
a friend when the pair became
separated on April 19.
The area where the body was
found had been searched several
After talking to police, she
believed his body had ended up
in the open area after heavy rain.
“There are doubters who say
he weighed 86kg, so how the
dickens could he be washed
out but the reality is he’s been
cooking for four weeks. ”
The rain could more easily shift
a decomposing body, she said.
She would not see her husband
before his cremation, but she and
her daughter, Jo Renton, were
in the area when his body was
found and taken away.
Police had told her “victim
recovery dogs” would search
on Monday, and she and her
daughter travelled from D unedin
to watch over the search site from
Dogs had searched the area
before but had difficulty because
of the searchers’ scents.
The area was closed for the
other scents to dissipate, she said.
Before the latest search, she said
she asked her missing husband to
allow himself to be found to stop
the “nasty rumours” circulating.
“ We need to know exactly what
happened to you,” had she told
The family never doubted
the death was an accident and
she declined to talk about the
“ unhelpful” and “ungrounded”
The family expected to be
relieved by the autopsy findings
and expected to be given a
preliminary report by the end of
She understood the police
investigation had to rule out
any suspicion and police had
collected DNA and fingerprints
from her house.
The family would hold two
ser vices for Mr Edge — one in
Dunedin on May 30 and another
in Fairlie on June 1 — two
days before her husband’s 65th
birthday. Both ser vices — at the
Baha’i Centre in D unedin and
Fairlie Community Theatre —
were open to the public.
— Otago Daily Times
Scientists have uncovered evidence
that two major earthquakes of the
same type that triggered both the 2011
Japanese and 2004 Boxing Day tsunamis
hit central New Zealand in the past
They warn another could cause
landslides, sea level changes and a
The two subduction “megathrust ”
earthquakes struck about 10km to 30km
beneath the seabed in Cook Strait —
one of them 470 to 520 years ago, the
other 800 to 880 years ago.
The discovery by GNS Science
had “confirmed” the risk this type
of earthquake, more powerful and
potentially destructive than normal
quakes, pose to New Zealand.
Both the 2011 Japanese tsunami and
2004 Boxing Day tsunami were caused
by subduction earthquakes.
GNS earthquake risk analyst Nick
Horspool said if a Japanese-style quake
of the same magnitude hit central New
Zealand, thousands of people could be
killed and tens of billions of dollars of
Mr Horspool estimated the potential
impact of such an event using a computer
“If it was a magnitude 9, we’d have really
strong shaking the whole way up the east
coast of the North Island and even the
top of the South Island — intensities
near (to) what was experienced in
“There would be widespread damage,
damage to buildings and infrastructure,
and following that you would have a
He said the tsunami
“devastate” the coastal areas and cause
further destruction to buildings and
Subduction quakes are different from
normal earthquakes in that they occur
on the under-surface of the upper plate
where two tectonic plates meet —
instead of on faults within the upper
The GNS study’s lead author, Kate
Clark, said the findings helped to further
understand earthquake and tsunami
hazards in the lower North Island and
upper South Island.
Although the evidence from just two
earthquakes was not enough to calculate
when the next subduction earthquake
would occur, or its exact magnitude, she
said: “It (was) most likely to be greater
than magnitude 7.”
The research was outlined in the
Bulletin of the Seismological Society of
America, published this week.
William Power, GNS Science senior
geophysicist and scientific programmer,
said the news vindicated the need for
“This is telling us yes, we do get these
megathrust subduction earthquakes,” he
“It’s not confirmed but it is definitely
saying this is a real problem, and it
is appropriate for us to take this very
seriously. Whereas before, people
could argue back and forth that ‘You’re
preparing for something but there’s no
direct evidence that it’s happened. ’ Now
we do have that direct evidence,” he said.
“It takes away a lot of the uncertainty.”
Megathrust described a quake type — at
subduction zones where continental plates
met — rather than an intensity, so small
megathrust quakes were possible too.
But megathrust quakes of at least
magnitude 7.5 on the Hikurangi
subduction zone, to the east of central
New Zealand, would probably cause
tsunamis, Mr Power said.
“It seems quite plausible that
the Hikurangi margin would have
earthquakes up to around the 8 to 8.5
range.” — NZME-New Zealand Herald
An abandoned yacht is still
transmitting its position at sea in
the Bay of Plenty after a dramatic
helicopter rescue in which its two
crew were winched to safety.
The pair, believed to be two men
aged in their 50s and 60 and from
the South Island, were lifted off
the 13m ketch Morning Star at
first light on Sunday by Auckland’s
Westpac rescue helicopter after
the yacht ’s engine broke down.
A medic was lowered down to
their deck of the stricken yacht to
assess their condition before they
were winched to safety 137km
north-east of Tauranga.
They were taken to Tauranga
for further medical assessment,
but were uninjured although
exhausted from their ordeal.
Spokesman Steve Rendle
said yesterday the yacht ’s
emergency locator beacon was
still transmitting, indicating a
position about 87km north of
White Island. — NZ ME
Abandoned yacht still afloat
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