Hawera Memorial Theatre Temporarily Closed

Hawera Memorial Theatre Temporarily Closed

Thursday, May 07, 2015

The auditorium of the Hawera Memorial Theatre (Albion Street) has been identified as earthquake prone and will be temporarily closed until strengthening work can be undertaken.

The decision to temporarily close the Theatre was taken after a structural engineer’s report advised the auditorium (public seating area) only met 23% ofthe 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.

SouthTaranaki District Council group manager of Engineering Services, Brent Manning,says in the interest of public safety, Council has stopped taking bookings and has effectively closed the Theatre to public use until further notice.

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

“Council staff have contacted users who’d booked the facility to advise them and everyone has been very understanding of the situation.”

Mr Manning says the Council has not made any formal decision on the buildings future, however it has indicated a desire to strengthen the Memorial Theatre, which is a unique and highly used community facility, pending a report on preliminary design and cost estimates.

“If accepted and approved by the Council the works could take place as soon as July this year, and be complete by Christmas or perhaps earlier. The timeframe will depend on the level of complexity and associated cost,” he says.

“It’s expected that most of this work will involve the addition of external columns and bracing on the outside of the Theatre walls.”

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.

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