The DSA took months to complete due to the complexity of the heritage building, its unique construction and the range of testing required. The assessment included researching existing documentation and information about the building, opening up and checking the strength of walls (destructive testing), investigating how the building was constructed, core sampling and scans, and geotechnical investigations of the land under and around the building. The assessment was carried out with input from Heritage New Zealand.
Historically, there have always been cracks in the original part of the Museum and there has been a monitoring programme in place for many years to pick up and changes. Several new cracks appeared following the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016.
There are cracks visible down walls on the ground floor of the old part of the Museum. Some cracks run from the ceiling to the floor and continue along the floor. Overhead in the basement walkway there have been cracks for many years and a few of these have widened.
Yes all taonga have now been removed from the Museum and will remain in safe storage or at alternative locations until the Museum reopens.
20 staff were affected by the initial closure and were given the option of taking redundancy. Many were placed in other Council roles where there were vacancies, and others were employed by local tourism operators who offered their assistance. A core group of staff were retained to provide education and holiday programmes, events, guided tours of Government Gardens, and to continue to care for the Museum collection.
$51.1 million has been secured so far meaning the seismic strengthening and restoration of the Bath House is fully funded. Rotorua Museum Centennial Trust has committed to help raise any additional funds required to complete the exhibitions.
An insurance claim is with our insurers, the insurance covers damaged to the museum caused by the Kaikoura earthquake which was additional cracking. It does not cover the required strengthening costs.
The Museum is scheduled to reopen in 2022.
This building is not only loved by the Rotorua community, but it is also nationally significant so it’s really important that we take the time to do it properly.
Strengthening the building and reinstating the heritage features is an extremely complex and time consuming process. It is important that the planning and design phases are really thorough to ensure this iconic building can be enjoyed by many generations to come.
We aim to achieve this in a way that balances respect for the building’s heritage, achieves the required structural strength and is practical. What may be seen as a small change on the face of it can actually be incredibly tricky and time consuming to get right.
The best outcome will be that once completed, the building will look almost exactly the same as it did before it closed. Where changes are visible, the direction from Heritage New Zealand is for any new construction to be sympathetic to the heritage building but clearly differentiated from it.
There will be some small changes to the internal layout to improve visitor flows, ease congestion hot spots and increase capacity. These include a new mezzanine floor to the café, a covered walkway providing access to the mud bath basement, and more toilets. These designs will be contemporary yet sensitive to the heritage architecture of the original building.