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Shock closure of college building

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

Wairarapa College looks set to lose one of its most historic buildings after an administrative block of the on-campus hostel was deemed not up to modern earthquake standards.

Student accommodation remains unaffected, but two hostel-staff families have been rehoused in alternative accommodation.

Principal Shelley Power said the building had not been damaged during last week’s 7.8 earthquake.

“There was no damage from the earthquake. We had an engineer check it on Monday, and it was in no worse condition to the previous time it was inspected.

“But we made the decision it wasn’t safe in alignment with modern earthquake standards.”

The building in question was built in 1924 and is a two-storey structure.

Although not housing student accommodation, some communal gathering areas were now off limits as the process of what to do next is worked through.

“At the moment we’re talking to parents about what the next step should be.

“It’s up in the air, but we won’t be able to remediate the building, it’s a bit beyond our funding.”

The most likely course of action appears to be demolishing the current building and constructing a new one, as the projected cost for upgrading the current set-up is simply not feasible, or worthwhile in the long-run.

It is expected if the school chose to remediate the current building it would cost upwards of $3.2 million.

“We all love the building – it’s a large part of the hostel’s history, but parents and students have said what they remember is not the building itself, but the culture and spirit in the building.

“We plan to improve the culture and spirit, which has disappeared a bit in recent years, to where it was a few years ago.”

Hostel manager Dani Cottle said the recent developments meant they had a chance to do something positive for the school.

“Even if we upgraded this building, we would still be stuck with an old structure so we want to do something that will benefit us long-term.

“This will give us a chance to build something colourful and new, while still keeping with tradition and culture at the school.”

There was no set timeframe for when any upgrades would need to be completed, she said.

“There is no danger to anyone at this stage. We’re just taking every precaution to keep staff and students safe.

“The students haven’t been affected too much, they just have to avoid this building at the moment.”


  1. So right about the community is what I remember from my time there! The decision makers deserve praise for looking forward.

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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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