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MDC denies Te Whatu Ora claim of $90m

Masterton District Council [MDC] is robustly defending a multi-million-dollar claim brought against it by Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand.

The $90 million dollar claim brought by the former Wairarapa DHB [now Te Whatu Ora] states MDC was negligent in issuing a code of compliance certificate in 2011 in respect of the building of Wairarapa Hospital [from 2005 to 2006].

The former DHB is claiming just under $90 million in damages from MDC, plus interest and costs.

MDC has filed a comprehensive defence denying the claim, which is set down to be heard in Wellington High Court later this month. There are also two third parties named in the proceedings.

MDC relies on a wide range of factors in its defence, including that Te Whatu Ora has not produced evidence MDC was at fault, the claim has been brought too late, and the amount claimed is excessive.

MDC filed an 11-page Statement of Defence with Wellington High Court on Tuesday [July 18], setting out its case. MDC denies Te Whatu Ora’s allegations regarding engaging an independent engineer to conduct a peer review of the plans and specifications for the hospital, and claims relevant documents are not available.

“It [MDC] has not been able to locate copies of documents referred to in the aforementioned paragraphs as a result of document management and document retention issues,” the defence states.

MDC also denies Te Whatu Ora’s claims relating to failures in the building inspection process, as well as further allegations about documentary deficiencies in the consenting process, including engineering calculations and records of inspection of construction monitoring.

MDC disputes the date the application for the code of compliance certificate [CCC] was made, on the basis that neither it nor Te Whatu Ora has been able to locate or provide a copy of the document.

MDC also says it has not been able to find a copy of the relevant CCC, other than an electronic note on its document management system saying ‘CCC issued’ on 25 January 2011, which is not corroborated by any other contemporaneous record or document. The defence says Te Whatu Ora has not been able to produce the relevant document either.

MDC admits that while there were no further inspections of the building work between 2007 and January 2011, the final inspection for the exterior, interior, commercial inter-tenancy, and fire-safety elements of the hospital were all passed by MDC’s building inspector in late 2007.

Other elements of the defence include that Te Whatu Ora’s claim is out of time under the Building Act 1991, the Limitation Act 1950, and the Limitation Act 2010. In addition, MDC argues that if Te Whatu Ora were to be successful in its claim, it would be in a better position than it would otherwise have been, due to maintenance and other costs it would have incurred in the intervening period.

Finally, MDC says if damages are awarded, they should be reduced for a wide range of reasons, including contributory negligence.

The trial is scheduled to start on July 31 in Wellington High Court. – NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air


  1. Absurd how two public entities can sue each other for millions.
    Sure people must be accountable. But this ridiculous lawyers will be making a fortune
    And the reality is no one wins.

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