Hawera Memorial Hall Identified Earthquake Prone

Hawera Memorial Hall Identified Earthquake Prone

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Hawera Memorial Hall (Albion Street) has been identified as earthquake prone and has been closed for public use until further notice. However, the Hall Lounges and Memorial Theatre remain open.

The Memorial Hall, owned by the South Taranaki District Council, was declared earthquake prone after a structural engineer’s report advised it only met 10% of the New Building Standard classification. Buildings that have less than 34% structural strength of a new building are classified as Earthquake Prone by the Building Act.

Group manager of Engineering Services, Brent Manning, says in the interest of public safety, Council has closed the Hall until further notice.

“While we realise this will inconvenience people who have booked events in the Hall, we simply can’t allow them to be in a potentially unsafe building,” he says.

Despite only being opened in 1958, the Hall received a relatively high risk assessment due to its length in relation to the strength of its walls, roof and trusses.

“During a moderate earthquake the side and lateral walls could flex to the point that the roof could collapse. While the risk of this happening is low, when it comesto public safety it is not a risk we are prepared to take,” says Mr Manning.

Council staff have been contacting regular users to advise them and offer alternative venues, all of whom have been very understanding of the situation.

The Memorial Hall Lounge and Theatre Lounge remain open and are well above the 34% minimum classification.

The Memorial Theatre, which also remains open, is currently undergoing assessment and Council should have a clear picture of its condition in early May.

Mr Manning says the Council is currently assessing 30 of its buildings identified as being potentially ‘at risk’ of not meeting new earthquake building standards. Once those assessments have been completed Council will have a better understanding of costs and future options. The Council has budgeted $3 million over the next 10 years to structurally upgrade earthquake prone buildings as part of its Proposed Long Term Plan.

In 2013 the Council also closed the Hunter Shaw Building in Patea to the public after it was assessed as being earthquake prone.