“Wellington’s Heritage Buildings Dodge the Earthquake Bullet – This time!” John Daniels, HPA Exec and HPW Member Reports:

Last November’s earthquake caused major damage in Wellington, but fortunately not to most of its heritage buildings.

The nature of the quake and the type of shaking it induced mostly affected some multi-storey modern structures. Two of these, an office block and a parking building, have had to be demolished. It has recently been announced that the 10-year old Ministry of Defence building will also be coming down. Other badly damaged modern buildings may yet have to be demolished when investigations have been completed. Internal damage in other buildings has been severe.

Most heritage buildings, however, were not badly affected. This was due to the type of shaking which did not greatly impact on lower structures. One such building, Shed 35 on the waterfront, will have to be demolished, and some others, notably Old St Paul’s, suffered minor damage. Other well-known buildings came through unscathed. One such is Harcourt’s Building, which was the subject of a major campaign against demolition, and is now being converted into a boutique hotel.

Wellington’s heritage buildings may not be so lucky in another type of shake. Recently Government has announced requirements for unreinforced parapets and facades to be strengthened within a twelve month time-frame. Some assistance will be available from central and local government, but the prospect is still a big challenge for some owners. Well-loved character areas such as Cuba Street in Wellington and Petone’s Jackson Street are particularly affected. If the work is not done these areas could be devastated if another quake of different character hits Wellington.

John Daniels is on the HPA Exec and the Historic Places Wellington Committee.

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