Anzac Day deadline for Carillon belltower fix abandoned

10:59 am on 10 December 2022
Last Post ceremony at the National War Memorial in Wellington.

Options are being explored for earthquake strengthening the National War Memorial Carillon. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The aim of reopening the earthquake-prone Carillon belltower in time for Anzac Day commemorations next year will not be realised.

The 50 metre high tower at the Pukeahu national war memorial in Wellington has been shut, reopened, then shut again in recent years, its 70 tonnes of suspended bells a threat to people below.

A year ago the Ministry for Culture and Heritage set a $7 million ballpark budget and said it hoped to reopen it for Anzac 2023.

That has proved far too optimistic.

"The forecast total cost is not yet finalised as the full scope of work has not yet been agreed and costed," the ministry told RNZ this week.

"Procurement of professional services, investigations and design of strengthening options have taken longer than forecasted."

Years of prior investigations and millions spent by the ministry on strengthening from 2012 to 2018 culminated in the tower's reopening in 2018, only for it to be shut again when new assessments showed it remained far too weak.

The ministry now knew what parts of the tower needed to be tested, deputy chief executive Glenis Philip-Barbara said in a statement.

It had done initial surveys and scaffolding was up to enable more detailed investigations.

It had also received and reviewed a structural engineer's report - another one of many - identifying key seismic risks and providing strengthening options to take the tower from 15 percent of earthquake code (New Building Standard) to 80-100 percent.

The ministry a year ago got a five-year extension from the city council to make the new deadline for a fix by May 2027.

"Currently investigations are also underway into other maintenance issues such as roof leaks," Philip-Barbara said.

"Decisions will be made early in the new year to confirm the scope of work."

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