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More details of defects revealed

The High Court in Wellington has heard almost five hours of testimony from an expert about thousands of seismic defects in Wairarapa Hospital.

The evidence was presented in support of Te Whatu Ora’s case against Masterton District Council, in which it is seeking almost $90 million in damages in relation to alleged deficiencies in the inspection and consenting process for the hospital, among other things.

Michelle Grant, a Masterton-based engineer, used a PowerPoint presentation of more than 100 slides showing detailed designs, descriptions, and photographs of the parts of the hospital she said have seismic defects.

Grant stressed not all parts of the hospital building have been inspected, and there could be additional unknown defects.

Grant gave her evidence on day four of a four-week hearing in the High Court about systemic and widespread problems in the design and construction of Wairarapa Hospital. The hearing also relates to the building consenting process.

Grant stressed there could be more affected areas, as some parts of the building – including the maternity wing – have not been able to be fully examined due to the activities conducted there.

She told the court the areas that have identified seismic defects include the hospital entrance area, a waiting room described as ‘201’, the paediatrics and southern wards, the ambulance bay, the plant room and service area, the glazed walkways through the building, the canopy over the entrance, the allied health wing, and an area described as “the kitchen area”.

She also described construction and design problems throughout the roof and ceiling, including missing support straps, insufficient nails and misaligned trusses.

Late on Thursday [August 3] Grant presented in evidence a large document scheduling identified problems.

“There is a general comment that applies to most defects and categories in this schedule. The overall number of occurrences of each defect is unknown, because we have not inspected every single area and element of the hospital,” she said.

“Many of the defects are repeated across the different zones of the hospital. It is reasonable to assume that the areas not inspected are likely to have a similar proportion of defects as the areas we have inspected. It is unsure how much of each zone has been inspected to date.”

Grant said an audit of the building would be needed to fully assess all the problems.

Earlier in her evidence relating to the roof, Grant stressed not everywhere has been examined.

Grant listed the HDU [high dependency unit], maternity area, and the day procedures unit as places that are difficult to access.

“We have inspected a large area, but we haven’t seen everywhere.”

Grant said to get visual access to some of the structural components is very difficult.

“You are working in a live hospital environment. We haven’t been able to inspect all of it. We would need to do more inspections to confirm exactly the prevalence of each defect in each location.”

The trial continues in Wellington.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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