Whangārei: New civic centre safe for staff to move into – council

Staff from the council’s Whangārei head office in Forum North will eventually move to the new $59 million civic centre (above), further up Rust Ave. Photo / Tania Whyte

The Whangārei District Council (WDC) says the discovery of toxic black mould has not delayed almost 500 staff moving into the new $59 million civic centre.

Staff will start moving into the building on June 1. It is expected to be open to the public on June 19. March environmental testing results revealed toxic moulds Stachybotrys chartarum and Aspergillus in three areas of the civic centre. Earlier this month the building was confirmed to be clear of these moulds in a second round of laboratory test results from the United States, received by the council on May 5, following April antimicrobial fogging of the four-storey building.

Council general manager corporate Alan Adcock said what were minor issues with the two types of mould had not been delaying council staff moving into the civic centre, or its opening.

The WDC is responsible under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 for determining whether it is safe to occupy the new civic centre.


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Earlier this month Adcock said workers would be moving in before June – when the building would also be open to the public, with the originally-mooted opening date of October 2022. In mid-January this year Adcock said the civic centre building was scheduled for practical completion in February.

By early March he instead said the building was at that stage 95 per cent complete, with about four more weeks needed for its completion. The date for the staff shift to the centre would be late April, barring unforeseen issues.

The civic centre building reached its official practical completion on May 12.

Adcock previously said reasons for the building project being behind the original schedule included it facing Covid-19 headwinds from its start. ”Two days after the [building] design phase started on March 23, 2020, the entire country went into Level Four lockdown as the first wave of Covid-19 struck,” Adcock said. ”The pandemic has had ongoing negative impacts on the project.”


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There had been other issues too, including delays in fixing leaking issues with the civic centre roof, due to months of bad weather.

Local Democracy Reporting Northland made further enquiries on April 19 around the date staff would be shifting. Adcock did not provide this in his May 1 reply to these enquiries – which came during the same the month as the building’s antimicrobial fogging, and before getting the toxic mould all-clear back from the United States.

He said at that time the civic centre was very close to completion. Finishing touches were being applied and there would be a final quality review before the WDC took possession of the building from the construction company.

Adcock then said on Thursday that staff would be moving to the building over roughly a two-week period between June 1 and 16.

He also said the building would be open to the public on June 19, subject to all the civic centre’s final preparations between now and then going to plan.

These included installing furniture, security, audio-visual and IT systems, before the building was ready for use by staff and the public.

The civic centre build’s lead contractor, Canam Commercial, also had some minor defects and other non-disruptive deferred works still to complete.

Adcock said the new council chambers were expected to be in use shortly after the centre was open to the public, but this would depend on completed installation and final audio-visual system testing.

A pre-dawn civic centre kawanga whare (building opening ceremony) by Ngā Hapū o Whangārei was set to take place this morning.

Adcock said the date for the centre’s official civic opening was subject to how final work proceeded and had not yet been set. He was looking forward to moving into the building and had no qualms about doing so.


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“All staff are safe to be moving in, visiting members of the public too. There are no issues at all. We will transition to the new building with a phased move-in schedule to maintain a steady service level,’’ he said.

“Customer-facing services will continue to operate from Forum North until the official opening date.’’

WDC staff are housed in different locations around the city but will be consolidated in the new civic centre. They will make up the bulk of workers moving into the building, and also be joined by staff from the Far North Regional Council, the Kaipara District Council and the Northland Regional Council via the inter-council Northland Transportation Alliance (NTA), which is shifting into the building too. There are 470 work stations in the civic centre.

■ Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

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