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Opening date announced for Te Whare Whakatere

Opening date announced for Te Whare Whakatere
Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown and chief executive Hamish Riach are happy to finally announce an opening date of Te Whare Whakatere of December 18. PHOTO JONATHAN LEASK/LDR

Mid Cantabrians will get to unwrap a $56.75 million Christmas present.

Ashburton’s new library and civic centre building is set to finally open on December 18.

Construction of Te Whare Whakatere began in early 2021, with an original completion date for the end of 2022.

It is now set to open a year late, and will end up being over its $56.75 million budget.

Nonetheless, Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown is excited for the building to be nearing completion.

“Good things take time and we are now at the pointy end.

“We can see the progress of the building and now have an end date for it to open for the whole community to enjoy.”

The delays in the project were caused by covid-related strains on the workforce and supply chain.

Council chief executive Hamish Riach said he was happy to celebrate an opening date being finalised.

“We’re really excited to get to this point, because it’s been a tricky build at times with covid and the shortages of staff and building materials.

“But this building is resilient and will serve our community well for 50 years or more, so we’re delighted.”

Like any major construction project, it had only been possible to set an opening date as the complex neared completion, Riach said.

“And now that we have a date to work towards, we can book in the people we need to help us physically move.

“That is a big logistical exercise because we are moving the library, and over 60,000 books, as well as all the functions and staff at the administration building.”

Construction of the building is set to be completed in late November to begin a three-week transition period, starting November 26, for the around 150 staff from the Ashburton Public Library and council administration building to the new building.

“There will be minor on-going work on the building and site while we move in.

“The build is expected to be completed in time for the building to be opened to the public on December 18.”

The 12 library staff will be heavily involved in relocating and setting up in Te Whare Whakatere.

“The new library will house not only books but be a modern and creative learning space that can accommodate all its different users, and we look forward to welcoming the community into this space,” Riach said.

All other council services will be available during the three-week transition period, with a skeleton staff operating from the old administration building on Baring Square West up until close of business on December 14.

The major task of transferring the council’s computer system and information network is already under way in the new building on the network connection, and the data services it supports.

The building will be blessed ahead of a staff induction day on December 15, Riach said.

An official opening ceremony is planned for early 2024.

Demolition set

The demolition of 255 Havelock Street is scheduled for the end of October and is expected to take around a month to complete, Riach said.

The building will make way for a public car park to service Te Whare Whakatere.

It’s a decision that Historic Place Mid Canterbury deputy chairman Nigel Gilkison described as “incredibly wasteful” after finding out too late to try and stop it.

During the demolition process there is an opportunity to recycle some of the materials from the 1936 building.

“This is primarily an opportunity for the demolition company,” Riach said.

“We are confident they will recycle as much as they can.”

By Jonathan Leask