Courthouse fate still unknown

The fate of the 130-year-old Oamaru District Courthouse remains unknown, over a year-and-a-half after it was closed.
Minister for Courts Chester Borrows said he was “very aware” that many people in Oamaru wanted a final answer.
“We have been asked by a group from Oamaru to consider a second opinion as to what it would take to make the courthouse safe for use,” Mr Borrows said.
“This has been presented to me in confidence, so I am unable to release the details of it.
“I have undertaken to explore this alternative fully before making any decisions as to the future of the courthouse, and I am in the process of seeking engineering advice on this.”
Waitaki District Mayor Alex Familton said he had been in talks with Mr Borrows, who had indicated that he was hopeful for a final statement in two weeks.
However, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said there could be some delay after the earthquakes in Wellington.
Mr Familton has expressed to the Minister that there is a “great depth” of public interest in the fate of the Oamaru District Courthouse.
“I’m aware that there is a very focused interest from our community,” Mr Familton said.
“The public do want to know what the outcome is and [Mr Borrows’] response was positive.”
Mr Familton said he hoped, like everyone, that court services could be delivered from the 130-year-old building again, after being earthquake restrengthened.
Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said she was as anxious as everybody to get some resolution for the Oamaru District Courthouse.
“It’s one of the most well-loved buildings in Oamaru,” she said.
“It’s a beautiful building, it has a good use and it’s been well looked after.”
She said she was in regular contact with Mr Borrows and the Ministry of Justice and was hoping for a “good answer”, soon.
“The people of Oamaru have been pretty patient, but I also acknowledge there are some crunchy issues to work through,” she said.
Safety was paramount, she said, and she supported the cautionary approach by the Ministry of Justice.
Whatever the outcome with the courthouse, Mr Borrows made a commitment that court services will remain in Oamaru, whichever building they are delivered from.
By Rebecca Ryan

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