Owner of Lund South, Russell Lund, is suspicious of the Ministry of Justice’s intention for Dunedin’s historic courthouse. (ODT)
The Opinion was published at Otago Daily Times today with the headline ‘Budgets blind to community benefit’ –here unabridged.
Your editorial last weekend (ODT 9.5.15) regarding the fate of the courthouse and your suspicion of the Ministry of Justice’s true agenda is sadly, prescient.
It is extremely unlikely that there is any will by the ministry at all to strengthen and retain the courthouse.
Lund South completed the restoration of the main courthouse in 2002. During that project we were party to candid discussions about the history of the courthouse restoration project and how it very nearly did not happen. The attitude of the courts even back then was that they weren’t getting any extra funding for restoration of the courthouse. They viewed the historical and heritage significance of the building as someone else’s problem. The courts had negotiations with the owners of an office building in the CBD, and very nearly signed a lease to put the courts there. It was only due to the hectoring of certain persons in the design team and a sympathetic official within the department that saw the project proceed, albeit very reluctantly, and with ongoing demands throughout the project to cut costs.
Of course the pressures on all government spending in the current Joycean environment are far worse than those benign days of the early 2000s. About $11 million was spent on renovation and extension of the courthouse in a project completed in 2003.
The department has now spent or will spend more than $6 million on a temporary facility, not the $3 million you noted in your editorial. That suggests that this is not a temporary fix.
We can be sure about this because we were also involved in the construction of the temporary courts in the old BNZ building in 2001.
That temporary facility that served very satisfactorily (apart from an issue with insufficient acoustic separation in the jury room that was easily fixed) and cost about 10%, just one 10th of the current expenditure on the new temporary facility.
The strategy employed by the department is quite obvious. They have commissioned a national engineering consultancy that is not known for creative or economic solutions. The firm is also well known for being unreceptive to alternative design proposals, their attitude being, “this is our project, we are going to do it our way”. Another government department had to threaten to sack them from a $30 million project in 2013 when they refused to consider an alternative structural proposal that ended up saving the department several million dollars.
Local engineers familiar with the building are convinced the scope and the cost of the work required would be dramatically less than the current proposal.
We have seen this scenario play out in the case of the Oamaru courthouse, where an alternative proposal at an estimated cost of one-third of the courts engineers’ estimate still was not enough to convince the courts to stay in the building.
Dunedin residents might well ask why this is? Surely, if the building can be strengthened at reasonable cost it is worth doing?
The answer is that this department, like others, simply sees old buildings as a money pit for ongoing repairs and maintenance and its budgets are blind to the wider benefits to the community of retaining heritage.
Related Posts and Comments:
11.7.15 Dunedin Law Courts “an incredible historic building” –Minister
14.5.15 Justice at Dunedin
2.5.15 Ministry serves INJUSTICE for Dunedin Courthouse #HistoricHeritage
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr
*Image: Railway Station & Dunedin Law Courts –Kerr
May 13, 2015
39 responses to “Russell Lund on Ministry closure of Dunedin Law Courts”
### ODT Online Sat, 16 May 2015
Editorial: Practical balance on quake risk
We need a sensible balance between safety, cost, heritage values and risks
OPINION As the dust settles on the announcement last weekend about planned changes to earthquake regulations, it must now be hoped they prove effective in providing promised partial relief. Dunedin, Oamaru, and Auckland will be among the centres to benefit most from extended timeframes. Each has many older buildings requiring work.
From the editorial:
Related Posts and Comments:
14.5.15 Justice at Dunedin
2.5.15 Ministry serves INJUSTICE for Dunedin Courthouse…
10.4.15 DCC: Natural Hazards
13.3.15 Making heritage work | Dunedin New Zealand
14.1.15 Earthquake felt at central Dunedin 12:40 a.m.
31.12.14 New building laws —happy new year!
16.10.14 Earthquake at Dunedin
14.10.14 ORC: New strategic plan fosters Otago prosperity
● 17.9.14 DCC releases earthquake-prone buildings register
[latest from Minister Nick Smith at Comments]
24.2.14 Earthquake-prone Buildings Amendment Bill
10.12.13 ORC restructures directorates
18.8.13 South Dunedin and other low lying areas
21.7.13 Earthquake —Stuff tells you what to do #EQNZ
20.4.13 Prof Claudio Modena | Open Lecture Wednesday 1 May
9.12.12 Enhancing building performance #eqnz
30.7.12 ORC on hazard risks and land use controls
19.7.12 Tonight – NZHPT Open Lecture WIN CLARK
6.7.12 NZHPT Open Lecture: WIN CLARK
4.3.12 University of Otago staff forum: earthquake prone buildings…
22.2.12 Expedience: DCC’s blunt instrument to demolish listed buildings
22.1.12 Licensed building practitioners
6.1.12 Rebuilding Dunedin (no typo intended)
8.11.11 Retrofitting commercial buildings
8.10.11 Workshop for heritage building owners – 23 November
27.6.11 You keep asking: does Dunedin get earthquakes?
26.4.11 Dunedin Heritage Buildings Economic Re-use Steering Group
14.4.11 Public consultation for DCC Earthquake-prone Buildings Policy
28.3.11 Dunedin earthquake proneness 2
10.3.11 ‘Owners of older buildings warned’ – ODT
9.3.11 Dunedin earthquake proneness
14.2.11 Earthquake proneness
14.9.10 DCC Media Release: Dunedin’s Heritage Buildings
27.11.10 LIM “site hazards”
● 4.9.10 Earthquake #eqnz [Canterbury quakes begin]
30.5.10 Dear DCC: about your services when … usual CD dramas and natural disasters…
27.3.10 RNZ National: David Hopkins on Quake-proof Buildings
16.3.10 Public meeting: planning the future of Dunedin heritage buildings
Earthquakes and stranger-danger both elicit fear responses unrelated to probability. Interesting comments follow this: http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/341764/new-earthquake-rules-positive-dunedin
News for those twerps posting comments there – not including goblin who knows the state of play as a heritage building owner – the Building Code is about human safe path exit (egress) in the event of quake damage to buildings.
The good news at Dunedin is that many of the recently strengthened buildings are to 100% or over, of the current building code requirement. This is down to the expertise and applied thinking of name structural engineers based at Dunedin, who have made it their business to specialise in approaches and techniques to enhance building performance that meet or exceed code requirements, affordably for their clients – whether through staged work to the buildings and structures.
Fraser Gibbs is a f***some turkey.
ODT 16.5.15 (page 30)
What an excellent opinion piece by Russell Lund. He seems to be a man who knows what he is talking about having been involved at the coal face. Another developer who loves this city’s heritage and not one of those A holes who want a glass and concrete, Christchurch style, mini me built environment.
Where did the magic bullet “demolish pre-1976” come from? Not Christchurch, surely? There were buildings that fell down, buildings that pieces fell off, buildings the cracked and leaned. If demolition-by-year-of-construction were relevant and deaths were the reason, there would be a time-band including the style of construction that failed, resulting in concrete sandwiches with human fillings not all of whom could be got out alive.
Before and after that “killer era”, buildings were safe, well fairly safe. The way buildings break has to mean something, isn’t it like crumple zones in cars? You’re not guaranteed living till age 101 if your car has airbags and crumple zone design. Any building can fail in some kind of earthquake, depends on force and how it moves, likewise if a truck runs into it. And if only one piece of timber comes off but it’s the piece that spears you through the heart you’re mutton.
Meanwhile in your safer than safe building you wait and wait to get on the waiting list for surgery, or for the appointment with a specialist who would diagnose your need for immediate surgery … and though the building stands you fall
Sense of proportion. Sensible allocation of scarce resource: money. Please!
Hype; are you back on ‘them intelligence pills again’? If you were to bottle up a few and send them to our Mayor and councillors it might make them smarter as well. While you’re at it send some to that ‘jackass’ in the Justice Dept that makes these nonsensical decisions to retire most of its building stock. Do you grow them, or do they come naturally?
Calvin, I scored ‘them intelligence pills’ down in the campus ghetto over a traditional cultural couch immolation. Good deal – swapped for 2 old windows destined for the window-glass recycling but welcomed by the pill-seller who had run out of bottles to break on the road.
Shouda kept them winders fir growin them pills under.
Now u tell moi.
Heritage Restoration Strengthening and Remediation
Otago Daily Times , Issue 6363, 4 July 1882, Page 4
THE SUPREME COURTHOUSE.
TO THE EDITOR
Sir,—During the winter months the Supreme Courthouse here, and the offices connected therewith, are no better than icehouses, and the clerks who have the misfortune to occupy the offices are in a state of freeze from morning to night. The Registrar of the Court, who is not in very good health owing to overwork, is compelled to sit in a room not fit for any human being to exist in. The cold is something intense, and the fire in the grate has not the slightest effect. In all the principal towns in New Zealand there are suitable and comfortable court buildings, and it is only in Dunedin, where, a large amount of legal work is done, that there is no suitable courthouse. The profession have complained over and over again, but nothing has been done, and nothing will be done till some decided move is made by the public in the matter. What we want in Dunedin is a building embracing the Supreme Court and offices, R.M. and District Court and offices, Deeds Office, Land Transfer Offices, Stamp Office, &c.
Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce will take the matter in hand. —l am, &c, Pro Bono Publico.
Source: Papers Past
Page 1 Advertisements Column 5
Otago Daily Times , Issue 11601, 8 December 1899, Page 1
LAW COURTS, DUNEDIN.
Public Works Office,
Wellington, 21st November, 1899.
TENDERS will be received at this office until noon of THURSDAY, the 21st December, 1899, for the ERECTION of New Law Courts, Dunedin. They are to be marked on the outside “Tender for Dunedin Law Courts Contract,” and addressed to the Hon. the Minister for Public Works, Wellington. Telegraphic tenders, similarly marked and addressed, will be received if presented at any telegraph office by noon of the same date, provided that written tenders are lodged at any Public Works Office, by the same hour. Drawings, specifications, and general conditions may be seen at this office, and at the Public Works Offices at Christchurch and Dunedin. The lowest or any tender not necessarily accepted.
W. H. HALES, Engineer-in-Chief.
Source: Papers Past
Oamaru Mail, Volume XXVIII, Issue 7997, 17 September 1902, Page 4
Judicial, Courthouses —New Courthouses have been erected or are in hand at Waihi, Opunake, Wellington, Outram, Dunedin, and Gore. Additions or extensive renovations have been effected at Napier and Hokitika, and minor additions or improvements at Ngaruawahai, Wairoa, Waipawa, Palmerston North, Kumara, and lnvercargill. The completion of new law Courts at Dunedin is worthy of special mention. This fine pile, of which illustrations appear at the end of the Statement, has cost altogether £21,600, including £I300 for furniture and fittings. The principal works provided for in the vote for the current year are new Courthouses at Hamilton, Levin, Wellington, Brightwater, Westport, and Orepuki, and additions, renovations, or improvements at Auckland, New Plymouth, Manaia, Hawera, Patea, Carterton, Christchurch, and Ashburton.
Source: Papers Past
DIGNITY OF JUSTICE.
Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XXIX, Issue 9468, 4 July 1902, Page 4
DIGNITY OF JUSTICE.
The dignity of a court was the keynote of Mr Justice Williams’ speech at the opening of the Dunedin Law Courts. He said: If justice be duly administered, it matters little where it is administered: whether it is administered under a tree in the open, or in a barn, or in some stately palace. The dignity of a court depends not on its surroundings, but rests upon the learning, integrity, diligence, and patients of those who preside there. But though the worth lies in the jewel, and not in the setting, it is well that the setting should be appropriate, and that the halls of justice should be convenient and seemly. (Applause.) It is further fitting that this present week should have been chosen for the dedication, of this building for the purpose of a court of justice. The extent of the Empire over which our King rules can hardly be better illustrated than by the fact that we here, separated as we are by the whole breadth of the habitable globe from the Royal courts of justice in London and the House of Lords at the ancient seat of learning, Westminster, administer the same system of law as these tribunals administer. Nay, more than that: we are united to these tribunals by the most intimate ties of respect and reverence—not a superstitious reverence, but a reverence founded on reason. (Applause.) We recognise that the judges of these courts possess not only the highest integrity, but the greatest intellectual power, and that they display in their judgments a breadth of view, a grasp of legal principles, and a lucidity in the exposition of those principles that elsewhere is unrivalled.
Source: Papers Past
Ministry of Justice hypocrisy 100% at Oamaru.
At Dunedin, a working party – including Heritage New Zealand’s (national)consulting engineer Win Clark – has been formed to examine how to keep the Courthouse in courts use.
### ODT Online Wed, 20 May 2015
The Regions: North Otago
Strengthening court half closure’s cost
By Rebecca Ryan
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% earthquake standards. Figures obtained by the Otago Daily Times 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 sale process.
[click to enlarge]
### ODT Online Thu, 21 May 2015
Council mulling buying courthouse, ministry lease
By Rebecca Ryan
The Waitaki District Council has not ruled out buying the historic Oamaru courthouse, restrengthening it and leasing it back to the Ministry of Justice. Land Information New Zealand is still considering the disposal of the former Oamaru courthouse, in line with the requirements of the Public Works Act and the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act.
### ODT Online Mon, 25 May 2015
A bridge too far and courthouse issues still unresolved
By Peter Entwisle – Art Beat
OPINION No bridge please and why do we keep repeating mistakes when it comes to the built environment? The bridge is that proposed at Rattray St crossing the railway tracks which may possibly be included in works the city council means to do to ”revamp” the central city (ODT, 21.5.15). The mistakes are those in regard to decisions made about the Oamaru and Dunedin courthouses. […] There is concern the central city’s retail trade is suffering and that giving the area a spruce up will help. But retailers are suffering from people’s rising use of the internet to do their shopping and a spruce up will have at best a marginal effect against that.
The inability to understand people’s motivations is mind boggling.
I’d go to town, any part of town no matter how few pavers it had or pavement bulges with trees in them, if what I wanted to do was in that part of town. I do already. Tiddling the decor at stupid expense won’t make me go there more often, nor go there when I have no reason to do so.
Today’s Jeez How Thick Are They moment came when I saw the warehouse precinct pedestrianisation of Jetty St (http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/343412/jetty-st-pedestrian-area-proposed)
which exacerbates an irritation that pushes people towards staying at home shopping online – removal of even more car parking places.
Removal because though we don’t know it now, being nought but foolish ratepayers who need wiser heads to work out what’s best for us, what we really-truly want is another tiddled-up place to stroll around in. Because all the other parts of town, CBD included, where we could amble around and pop into shops and cafes are so crowded that we need another space.
May 25, 2015 at 10:56 pm
You say “The inability to understand people’s motivations is mind boggling…. but foolish ratepayers who need wiser heads to work out what’s best for us, what we really-truly want is another tiddled-up place to stroll around in.
Absolutely right. This is yet another ‘make work’ scheme. And for whom I wonder. Certainly not the public. No, it is more than likely for these not needed so called ‘planners’ for another wet dream experience – again at our expense. Who on god’s earth would actually use this over designed space? I can tell you – sweet fanny adams – and only on a dark night with no wind when she is desperate.
### ODT Online Sat, 6 Jun 2015
Courthouse to be saved – Clark
Dunedin’s historic courthouse will be saved, strengthened and have court services returned to it, the Otago Daily Times has been told.
Dunedin North MP David Clark said he believed the announcement was planned for the coming week, and would be delivered by Justice Minister Amy Adams. The ODT asked Mrs Adams to confirm the report yesterday, but she was not able to respond before publication.
Future uncertain for Dunedin courthouse
There is still no set timeframe or budget for the strengthening of Dunedin’s historic courthouse, and no solid guarantee it will be saved, Justice Minister Amy Adams said today. […] Mrs Adams said there had been no plan to announce the courthouse’s retention this week, despite Labour MP David Clark’s assertion such an announcement was imminent.
### dunedintv.co.nz June 10, 2015 – 6:45pm
Courthouse earthquake strengthening plans progressing slowly
While visiting the city, Amy Adams is also responding to concerns about the future of the historic courthouse.
So, if it isn’t going to be a courthouse, and earthquake strengthening said to cost up to $10m (a considerable sum),what then?
It is unimaginable that this beautiful building in a pivotal spot could turn into a pile of rubble, replaced by something modern and no doubt sterile.
$10m for enhancing building performance is unlikely to be correct. We will see!
Minister Amy Adams says: “It’s under 20% of new building standards.”
Take this pontification with a grain of salt.
### ODT Online Mon, 15 Jun 2015
Courthouse explanation redacted
By Eileen Goodwin
The Ministry of Justice has released ministerial briefing documents about the Dunedin courthouse in lower Stuart St, but has blanked out parts that might explain why earthquake strengthening has been delayed. The ministry has been tight lipped about the courthouse, which has been mothballed indefinitely. In a visit to Dunedin last week, Justice Minister Amy Adams could give no guarantees on its future.
### ODT Online Sat, 20 Jun 2015
Lawyers push for courthouse reopening
By Craig Borley
Criminal lawyers have demanded Dunedin’s historic courthouse be partially reopened, in a letter to the Minister of Justice.
The High St temporary courthouse was so small it was forcing children to mingle with criminals and forcing the postponement and cancellation of court fixtures, New Zealand Criminal Bar Association vice-president Len Andersen said yesterday.
If Lawyers want the courthouse reopened, then how about they put their hand in their own pocket and help pay for it. They charge an arm and a leg for anything that they do, with no money back guarantee if they lose. What with legal aid and taxpayer funded work places, and paid when they lose, it must be one of the cushiest jobs around
They don’t own the building, Milton. Do you expect hospital staff to pay for the upgrade of their buildings??!
Besides, the Ministry is playing sick political games stating $10m for strengthening the Law Courts.
Hospitals are completely different argument from court houses. As you well know, hospitals are a public benefit, and something that we all need no matter what colour or creed .
Courthouses are completely different. You could at one time be tried and hung under the old oak tree. It did not matter where the justice was carried out, as long as it was carried out.
Today’s fancy buildings, pomp and ceremony is all to do with ego, and does nothing for the average punter, but scare the shit out of them when they enter this weird world of modern day justice.
Bring back the cane and the old ladies and their knitting, the Oak tree, and save the taxpayers Millions $.
P.S. Why don’t they use the stadium as a court house. It remains empty during business hours.
You know nothing, it appears, about the New Zealand court system and the range of court services at Dunedin.
Your comments read as completely off the planet.
### ODT Online Sun, 21 Jun 2015
Questions left towering
By Craig Borley
[…] The ODT looked at what it thought were the seven most recognisable and treasured of Dunedin’s stone towers, it found only one had been declared “too dangerous for occupation” by its owners. Only one had a proposed price-tag for strengthening work “north of $10million”. And only one was the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice: Dunedin’s historic Law Courts building in Stuart St.
Read more + Photos
The government should stop playing games about this building. It owns it – it is a national architectural treasure – it can and must be fixed and having been used as such for over a century it is demonstrably fit for purpose. The earthquake standards are man determined criteria that have been modified from time to time in recent years especially in view of the cost of compliance.
It is all, in the end, determined by the government. Are they seeking a revolution by pissing everyone in Dunedin off?
Gross incompetence at the Ministry and HIDDEN AGENDAS. Conveniently, overpaid and poorly regarded consultants used by government to skew arguments. ODT’s weekend questions were helpful in seeding public minds with querulous disregard for the Minister as well as the Ministry.
Towering courthouse work bill
The cost of strengthening Dunedin’s historic courthouse more than doubled after engineers completed ”detailed investigations” into the 113-year-old building, the Otago Daily Times has learned.
### ODT Online Fri, 26 Jun 2015
Fears court services being centralised
By Craig Borley
The abandoning of New Zealand’s earthquake-vulnerable courthouses could be masking a strategy centralising regional court services to larger cities, Labour says. The party’s justice spokeswoman, Jacinda Ardern, told the Otago Daily Times she was “extremely sceptical” about the process around Dunedin’s historic courthouse, citing falling courts budgets and Ministry of Justice “doublespeak” as warning flags.
### ODT Online Sat, 27 Jun 2015
Ombudsman to probe court info refusal
By Eileen Goodwin
The Office of the Ombudsman plans to investigate the Ministry of Justice over its refusal to release information relating to Dunedin’s courthouse. The Otago Daily Times complained to the watchdog after the ministry blanked out passages from briefings to Justice Minister Amy Adams which may have been useful in discovering why the strengthening project appears to be delayed.
I note the term “blanked out”. Current usage regarding removal of relevant information from documents pried from unwilling hands is “redacted”. I wonder what happened to the old word “censored”?
“All the officer patients in the ward were forced to censor letters written by all the enlisted-men patients,…….. To break the monotony he invented games. Death to all modifiers, he declared one day, and out of every letter that passed through his hands went every adverb and every adjective. The next day he made war on articles. He reached a much higher plane of creativity the following day when he blacked out everything in the letters but a, an and the. That erected more dynamic intralinear tensions, he felt, and in just about every case left a message far more universal. Soon he was proscribing parts of salutations and signatures and leaving the text untouched……… Most letters he didn’t read at all. On those he didn’t read at all he wrote his own name. On those he did read he wrote, “Washington Irving.” When that grew monotonous he wrote, “Irving Washington.” ” from Catch-22* by Joseph Heller.
Who are our Yossarians and what games are they playing?
And what are the stakes?
The poetics of censorship from the Ministry of “Justice”. Heller indeed.
Catch 22 is that you can obtain a report, and pay for it, but you must not let anyone read it that matters.
Um, minus insurance and rates – the totally irresponsible Ministry of Justice and Minister Adams. Seeing to Building Performance WAS ALWAYS CHEAPER THAN THIS SHITE.
Are “we” justifying Pie-muncher Brownlee’s grossly expensive Court Precinct (capital build) in Christchurch.
### ODT Online Thu, 2 Jul 2015
$600,000 a year for rent-a-court
By Craig Borley
Dunedin’s temporary court facilities will cost the Ministry of Justice almost $600,000 in rates and rent alone over the next year. That bill comes on top of the $6.8 million spend required to get the 184 High St temporary courthouse up to scratch.
And wait for a Commissioner to be appointed in place of the Canterbury District Health Board – wham bam rationalisation of tertiary hospital facilities in Christchurch with feeder clinics south of the border.
Aside: see latest – http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/347800/hospital-loses-right-train-orthopaedic-surgeons