by Chris Tobin
Members of the Temuka and Districts Historical Society are working hard to preserve their museum in the town’s former courthouse.
The immediate challenge is getting the building up to the required seismic strengthening level.
“Our target is to get it 34% [of the building code] but it is affordable around 60 to 67%,” earthquake strengthening project manager Pat Mulvey said.
“The building is sitting at 20%. If we can get it to the 67%, the estimate is it will cost $388,000 plus GST. The minimum 34% is $285,000.”
Mr Mulvey said that even though it was a “massive project” to work through, it was worth doing.
The former courthouse was built in 1900 to replace an earlier wooden courthouse. Other out-buildings were added such as a morgue in 1929 which was still there, but had not been used for many years.
Mr Mulvey said the distinct building was the only one of its type in New Zealand. One other at Bluff has been demolished.
The last court sitting was held in 1979; the building had been used as a museum since 1982, a year after the historical society was founded.
Today it contained a vast range of items reflecting Temuka’s history as well as extensive material that was helpful for researchers.
He believed it was the community’s responsibility to preserve the building and collect items relevant to the town’s history.
“We started the quake project in 2017 when we got an initial seismic report done. We funded it from the A. D. Hally Trust and Thomas Hobson Trust.”
Architecture and urban design consultant Nigel Gilkison offered his services free and the Historic Places Trust has also viewed the category two building to assess the work that would be required.
A Wellington structural engineer was also assisting the efforts.
“We are sure we can find ways to strengthen the building that are less intrusive.”
The society has applied to NZ Lotteries for funding and should learn the outcome in June.
“It’s a stage-by-stage, very slow, painful process,” Mr Mulvey said.
“We applied to the Temuka Community Board for funding out of the community grants fund. We’ll get $10,000 over two years.
“We appreciate every contribution but it was only 50% of what we had applied for. We might go back but it will be to council.”
Any financial help would be welcomed, Mr Mulvey said.
“We won’t know till the end of the year what we really need to do but in the meantime, anyone wishing to give a donation we can assure them it won’t be wasted.”