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Weather blamed for latest delays

What the Waihinga Centre will look like inside, when it’s finished. PHOTOS/FILE

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Earthquakes, a greedy highway gobbling up steel, and now bad weather and a shortage of materials.

The South Wairarapa District Council continues to trot out the reasons why Martinborough’s Waihinga Centre and Town Hall won’t be ready on time.

The latest delay has pushed back the opening until November, and left the community “disappointed”, according to one South Wairarapa councillor, who has now called for a council report on the issue.

The delay has also scuttled the bookings of organisations and community groups hoping to host events in the venue over the next few months.

In a press release on Friday, a positive spin was put on the delays, saying “good things take time”.

“Weather has been a very determined deterrent with rain in June being unprecedented, and sunshine extraordinarily limited,” the statement read.

“As a result, progress outside has been set back with rain bringing outdoor work to a halt for several weeks.”

On top of that, late deliveries of materials mean “trade resources” have been moved inside so work can continue.

According to the latest figures from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, from June 1 to June 27 there were 60.6 hours of sunshine in Martinborough – compared with the June average of 96.

In the same period there was 93.6mm of rain, compared with an average of 87mm for the month of June.

Martinborough ward councillor Pip Maynard said she knew of many ratepayers looking forward to hosting events in the new centre who would now be left in the lurch.

“It’s really disappointing.”

She said the finish date for the project had kept being pushed back, and that was why she had asked for a report to get answers for the community.

One group hoping to be in the new centre in September was organisers of Jazz in Martinborough.

Festival music director Lee Quayle said they were disappointed that would no longer happen, but they would find other venues for their early September concerts.

“The show must go on, as they say.”

A lot has transpired since former South Wairarapa mayor Adrienne Staples turned the first sod for the Waihinga Centre and Town Hall project in September 2016.

The $5.3 million project was supposed to be finished in May, but has been set back on several occasions.

In December 2016 the Kaikoura earthquake meant engineering paperwork could not be accessed, leading to delays starting the project.

In November last year it was reported that construction on Transmission Gully had “sucked most of the reinforcing steel out of circulation”, according to council chief executive Paul Crimp, leading to more delays.

At that stage a new completion of date was given as July 2018, but according to the council the completion date is now likely to be November.

“Organisations and groups who have made pencil bookings for the town hall have been advised that there will be a delay and council is working with these groups to ensure their events go ahead as planned in alternate venues in Martinborough.”

Despite these delays, there has been a lot of progress, the statement continues.

The outside of the town hall has had a coat of paint, the main front doors have been sent away for finishing, the vestibule floor and supper room have been refurbished, and the first stage of wiring has been installed with some plumbing also in place.

The town hall strengthening is also mostly complete, and the glass for the Waihinga Centre windows is due to be installed next week.

The project has divided the town’s residents since it was first put forward in 2011.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will open the centre . . . when it’s ready.

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