A historic central Auckland church will be demolished today after a fire left it damaged yesterday evening.
Emergency services were called to the Esplanade Road property just after 4.30pm yesterday, with about 50 firefighters fighting the blaze.
Fire investigators are treating the blaze as suspicious.
Auckland Council ordered the demolition of the old St James hall after the building was deemed unsafe. The demolition time is yet to be confirmed.
The 130-year-old hall has been abandoned for the last six years after it was subject to a dangerous building notice.
In March this year, the Presbyterian Church Property Trustees wrote to Auckland Council saying the church was at risk of collapse.
They called for the immediate evacuation of neighbours, and for the road next to the church to be closed.
In 2014, the church made a multimillion-dollar deal with an Australian developer to sell the site, but the sale would only go through if the hall was demolished.
At the time, the council blocked that demolition.
Presbyterian Church Property Trustees executive officer Kos van Lier said they are relieved no-one was hurt in the fire.
"A ruling by the Environment Court recently agreed that the hall was dangerous and should be demolished. However, we are saddened that this fire has meant that some of the heritage fabric that would have been saved in a controlled demolition is now lost," Mr van Lier said.
The building will be demolished today to ensure it did not pose a risk to people or properties in the area, Mr van Lier said.