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Quake strengthening begins

Building task force convenor Robin Dunlop in front of the historic St Luke’s church. PHOTO/GERALD FORD

By Gerald Ford

One of Wairarapa’s oldest and grandest buildings is about to undergo major strengthening work.

The St Lukes Union Church, build in 1907, is heading into the third and final stage of its earthquake strengthening project.

The church is the only gothic-style brick church in Wairarapa and is on the council heritage list.

Work is set to begin on Monday, September 26 on strengthening to historic building to meet earthquake specifications – with a building consent approved by Masterton District Council.

“There’s two issues, one is it’s quite a nice building, and the other it’s a protected building in the Masterton district plan – so we can’t just go and knock it down,” Building task force convenor Robin Dunlop said.

“Once it’s strengthened we want to have it for more community use.”

The church entranceway was strengthened in 2014 and last year the roof was rebuilt. A Lotteries heritage grant of $87,000 contributed to this work, but the congregation has been raising funds since 2012 after discovering the building was less than 40 per cent compliant to the latest earthquake building codes.

The latest step is set to cost more than $300,000 with $40,000 yet to be raised and the church is open to further donations.

The building survived the 1942 earthquake with some damage, though the parish took eight years to raise enough funds for its repair at the time.

Current work will involve mostly internal strengthening, except for two ground anchors which will not be visible above ground.

The church has engaged structural consultants LGE Consulting and contractors Holmes Construction Group for the work.

While construction is under way the congregation will be meeting in the church hall.

Workers hope to have the project complete by late January or early February – after which members of the congregation will need to redecorate and reinstall furniture.

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