New Zealand Law Society - Oamaru courthouse to be re-opened

Oamaru courthouse to be re-opened

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An agreement between the Waitaki District Council and the Ministry of Justice means the historic courthouse in Oamaru will be restored and re-opened.

Ownership of the court will be transferred from the ministry to the Council, which will seismically strengthen the building and carry out other minor refurbishments. The ministry will then lease it from the Council.

As part of the agreement, the Council will also be able to use the building outside court sitting hours for council-related activities.

"This sharing arrangement will be done in a way that satisfies the confidentiality and security requirements of the court," Justice Minister Amy Adams says

"The agreement will make effective use of the building's facilities and ensure the people of Oamaru get maximum value out of the building."

Waitaki District Council will be able to use the historic building when court is not in operation for activities, such as community meetings, civil defence and emergency situations, and other community purposes.

The Council has decided to strengthen the courthouse to at least 67% of the New Building Standard - the minimum is 34%.

The courthouse was closed in December 2011 after it was found to not meet minimum strength and safety standards in case of an earthquake. The strengthening work is expected to take 9 to 12 months, and it is expected the court will be ready for use by the end of 2016.