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Demolition needs consent

The Masterton District Council [MDC] will need permission to demolish Masterton’s town hall facade, due to its heritage status.

The facade, which is on the chopping block in the proposed Long-Term Plan [LTP], is listed in the schedule of Heritage Buildings and Items in the Wairarapa Combined District Plan.

The current town hall in Masterton was deemed earthquake-prone in 2016.

Last week, the council moved to demolish the town hall and municipal buildings and build a new facility
on the current site.

However, MDC will need a resource consent to demolish the town hall facade, should its LTP be adopted on June 26.

The demolition is considered a “discretionary activity” requiring resource consent.

In the Wairarapa Combined District Plan, demolition or relocation of scheduled historic heritage buildings is discouraged, “unless it can be demonstrated that there are no reasonable alternatives”.

Consideration is given to a number of factors including the effects on historic heritage values; the importance attributed to the heritage item by the wider community; cost of maintenance or repair; and appearance of any replacement building in relation to heritage values.

A council spokesperson said work was underway to appoint a consultant planner to assess and lodge a resource consent application on behalf of the council.

A heritage architect would be engaged to prepare a report regarding the heritage value of the building “to demonstrate whether there are appropriate heritage values to consider”.

“The processing of this application will be undertaken by an independent consultant who will also make a recommendation to the Council on whether this is publicly notified,” the spokesperson said.

If the application requires public notification, submissions would be heard by an independent commissioner.

The resource consent would also be assessed by an independent commissioner. At LTP deliberations earlier this month, Deputy Mayor Bex Johnson moved to demolish the town hall and municipal buildings.

She proposed building a new town hall on the current town hall site, including a multi-purpose space for performances or functions, as outlined in the preferred option.

The municipal building facade would not be retained.

A maximum of $25 million [including contingency] was budgeted to be included in years 1 to 4 of the LTP.

The facade is technically on the municipal building but is commonly referred to as the town hall facade.

It was previously given a stay of execution in 2020 when the former council voted 6-5 to retain it.

However, Johnson said that retaining the facade introduces a lot of risks and complexity to the project and further investigation would be required to establish the scope of works required to retain the façade, adding to the project costs.

Councillors Johnson, Craig Bowyer, Stella Lennox, David Holmes, Marama Tuuta, and Mayor Gary Caffell supported the motion.

Voting against were councillors Tim Nelson, Tom Hullena, and Brent Goodwin.

According to the council’s “Registered Heritage Items List”, the first town hall was on Lincoln Rd but it burnt down in the early 1880s.

In the mid to late 1890s, the Masterton Trust Lands Trust built a new town hall on Lincoln Rd.

“The site now occupied by the District Buildings had been donated to the Borough by the Trust Lands Trust for a library, and a two-storied building, incorporating both the library and the municipal offices was built on the site,” the Registered Heritage Items list states.

“This building was moved further south on the site and the replacement Municipal Buildings, incorporating the Town Hall, was opened in 1916.

“Damaged in the earthquake of 1942, the building was strengthened and clad in concrete over brickwork.

“The roof of the auditorium was raised in 1947. All roof embellishment was removed. A further extension was carried out in the 1970s.

“Internally, the principal hall is a fine space if of unusual proportion. The building has some historic and townscape value because of its status.”


LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air


  1. It’s a great shame in so many ways. I will never forget the solemnity when marching past the old Town Hall and the attached crosses beside it outside on ANZAC Day., It was truly in keeping with the commemorations.

  2. And NO ONE? CHECKED OR THOUGHT ABOUT 🤔 IT. CEO? MANAGERS? CONSONANTS? COUNCILORS ? . WE NEED ONE STRONG WAIRARAPA COUNCIL. Not three confused councils just putting up rates 🙄 willy-nilly.

Comments are closed.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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