An excavator begins to demolish the GWRC office buildings. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

KAREN COLTMAN
karen.coltman@age.co.nz

A 30-tonne excavator smashed into a brick building on Chapel St, Masterton, with ease on Wednesday afternoon, making it look like it was made of ice block sticks when it crumpled.

Excavator operator Taurin Monk sent the bucket through the front windows at 2.15pm and it crunched into the brick frontage of the former Greater Wellington Regional Council building leaving a gaping hole and a cloud of dust.

He then started tapping the bucket into the roof and whacked it in.

The quick work meant mud, rain, bricks, and mortar were all mashed up together in a messy pile within a few minutes of the first intrusion into the building.

The two 54-year-old GWRC buildings are coming down to make way for a new building for staff to work from.

The buildings had asbestos and were not up to earthquake strength standard.

The front State Highway 2 roadside building is sinking into the ground and is not suitable for staff to work from.

It was scheduled for demolition yesterday.

Because it is next to SH2, the team onsite will expand to about half a dozen.

Johnny Fussell and Monk were the only crewmen on site on Wednesday with a new Komatso excavator owned and operated by Quality Demolition.

“It’s always good to hit an old, solid building,” Monk said.

“It’s definitely satisfying to get it down and there’s no turning back until it is down.”

Company director Shane Gray said the excavator came on a ship from Japan and arrived in Wellington a month before the covid-19 lockdown.

But the road to getting permits to get the two buildings down was longer than anticipated with asbestos being discovered in more areas than expected and in the paint itself.

“It has only done 120 hours and it is great to be using it on the job,” Gray said.

The machine cost about $300,000.

Gray said much of the demolition rubble was being graded into aggregate with some of it going back on to the site.

He said there was demand and interest in the remaining recycled demolition material.

Gray calculated there to be about 1000 tonnes of material to get off the site when the two buildings were down.

GWRC sold the buildings to Wairarapa property development company Endeavour Concepts Limited, owned by David Borman.

Borman is developing a new building and leasing it to GWRC.

Since October 2018, GWRC staff have worked from temporary offices on level four of the Departmental Building with a lease in place to April 2021.