Work to start on Wellington's Defence site

December 10 2018

Work is to begin on removing three buildings, two of which are earthquake-prone, from the New Zealand Defence Force’s Buckle Street site in Wellington. 

The work to demolish the former HMNZS Olphert headquarters, a garage building and the Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit will begin on 14 December, making way for future development of the site.

The iconic two-storey Category 2 listed former General Officer Commanding (GOC) Headquarters, which has been presiding over Taranaki Street for more than 100 years, will remain, with the potential for its façade to be used in any future development. 

Acting Head of Defence Estate and Infrastructure Phil Gurnsey said the NZDF was committed to retaining a regional facility in Wellington at the Buckle Street site in a way that allowed greater public access to the area and that was in keeping with the Pukeahu precinct, but no definite plans had been developed yet.

Originally built for the Territorial Army, the GOC Headquarters is a significant earthquake risk. In 2015 containers were placed around the building to protect the public from potential harm from falling masonry in an earthquake.

Internal restraining of the parapets and façade has been completed recently to reinforce the brick work. 

The building has been vacant for about 30 years. It would need significant strengthening and millions of dollars to bring it up to 67 per cent of the National Building standard or better.

“We understand the importance of this building and the wider site to the history of Wellington. It has been part of Wellington’s and the Defence Force’s heritage for more than 100 years,” Mr Gurnsey said.

The work to remove the other three buildings on the site has been scheduled to cause as little impact as possible on neighbouring properties and will cease during the Christmas period.  Removal of the buildings from the site is expected to be completed in February. 

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