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New council building design questioned

CONCERNS about what is seen as wasted space led two district councillors to vote against approving concept designs presented for the new council administration building.

But a majority of councillors were satisfied with the concept presented by architects Chow Hill yesterday and also approved the proposed name “Awarua” for the new building — although three councillors voted against it.

Votes against the proposed concept were recorded by Roger Haisman and Graeme Thomson, while there were votes in favour from Mayor Meng Foon, Craig Bauld, Bill Burdett, Josh Wharehinga, Andy Cranston, Brian Wilson, Larry Foster, Rehette Stoltz, Pat Seymour, Amber Dunn and Meredith Akuhata-Brown. Alan Davidson was absent.

Councillors Haisman, Thomson and Bauld voted against the name and the remainder all voted in favour.

The council listened to a presentation from Chow Hill’s Brian Rastrick.

Mr Haisman said there was a huge waste of space in the southernmost part of the building. If that part was squared off and roofed, it would create more floor space and more parking space.

Mr Rastrick said that was intended to be designed into a landscaped courtyard for the staff.

The council had been told the design was based on the shape of a double-hulled waka.

The building did not need to have the shape of a waka, said Mr Haisman.

“You won’t know it is a waka unless you hover over it in a helicopter.”

He also asked if the name Awarua would be put out for consultation, like the one for the inner harbour, and was told this was the council’s building so they could name it.

Walls may dateGraeme Thomson said features like the walls tended to become dated with time. It was always better to have a straightforward building. Chief executive Judy Campbell said adding to the floor space would add to the cost, not reduce it.

“I have a little bit of experience, said Mr Haisman.

“Keeping the building nice and simple will always be cheaper than putting lots of funny angles in it.”

Pat Seymour said everybody knew that having three outside walls instead of two would be an additional cost. She also thought the space inside was crowded.

Mr Rattrick said if the building was squared off, some people would never be able to see outside during their working day. Mrs Campbell said the staff worked 40 hours a week or more and she had asked that there be as much natural light as possible.

Craig Bauld questioned why the building needed a name. You could put a name on top of it and call it Mary Poppins if you liked, he said, but people would always say they were going to the council.

It was wrong to say the building had cultural features — they were Maori features. People chose to use the word cultural for political correctness but, in fact, there were no Japanese or British features in the building — they were Maori.

Josh Wharehinga said he did not believe the building would become dated. It had hono, which in this sense meant connectedness. There had always been marae in this area with hono.

He thought the concept for the building was awesome. He had seen a lot of boring dated, old buildings like the one they were in and loved the fact they had the opportunity to establish one like this.

Larry Foster said he felt the concept of the waka and the name Awarua were fantastic, as both were unique to this district.

Mr Bauld quipped that he might give his chair a name too.

Mr Haisman said you could choose all the fancy names you liked but the name Awarua meant nothing to 95 percent of the population.

• By contrast, the council unanimously approved a design concept for the $5.5 million HB Williams Memorial Library extension presented by Jane Hill of Chow-Hill, whic included the location of the large stained glass window.

Project and design officer Mark Joblin said the building would be completed in time for the library’s 50th anniversary in April, 2017.


Proposed new council building
Proposed new council building.