Old military buildings at Shelly Bay set for demolition

Shelly Bay in Wellington

Two heritage buildings at Shelly Bay in Wellington are set to be demolished after significant structural issues were found by developers.

Shelly Bay Taikuru development director, Earl Hope-Pearson, told 1News the plan was to strengthen and restore the Shed 8 and Shipwrights buildings, making them commercial spaces, but the condition was "much worse than anyone anticipated".

He said structural engineers from both inside and outside the company reported serious health and safety concerns and didn’t want to work in the buildings due to the potential for "catastrophic failure".

The Wellington Company reported this to Wellington City Council, the owner of the buildings until the development is complete, Mr Hope-Pearson said.

He said Wellington City Council issued a notice for demolition of the buildings in late December.

1News approached the council for comment.

Mr Hope-Pearson said work was underway to determine when the demolition can happen, but there was an intention for it to be "as soon as possible".

He said the situation left developers with the opportunity to "create something with a nod to the past" and raise the site in line with the rest of the seaside development to prevent coastal inundation.

Corrosion of temporary steel in 2022.

The buildings were used by the Defence Force until the end of World War II and were decommissioned in 1995.

They were not heritage listed.

Charlie Rudd, onsite kaitiaki (environment guardian) and liaison for Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, said iwi "absolutely support" the demolition.

"I know it's a safety first thing… from a Māori world view, it’s the environment, it’s the moana and whenua," said Rudd.

"I've seen it, felt it, smelt it," he said, in reference to the building's decay.

Mr Rudd said he had seen wharf material fall into the ocean before, adding this was removed by contractors.

He said servicemen and women had visited to talk about the popularity of the site when in use by the Defence Force and expressed their sadness at seeing it in a state of disrepair.

Damage to adjoining wharf in 2022.

Mr Rudd said he respected them and wanted to honour their service by bringing vibrancy back to the area with the construction of new buildings at the site.

Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust would own the buildings once the development was complete.

Mr Rudd invited anyone who wanted to discuss what was happening to meet him at the site to have a korero.

"Transparency is the key," he said.

Shelly Bay Taikuru was a residential and commercial development under construction by The Wellington Company and Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, Taranaki Whānui's trust managing the iwi’s treaty settlement.

Damaged timber piles.

The land was purchased as part of Taranaki Whānui's settlement with the Crown.

Te Āti Awa lived in the area before European settlement and the later sale of most of the capital to the New Zealand Company and remained in the bay for some time, according to the Wellington City Council.

The Shelly Bay Taikuru residential development had drawn controversy over the years, with an occupation from iwi group Mau Whenua protesting the sale of the land lasting for 525 days.

This ended when the Trust and Mau Whenua reconciled in May last year.

Wider demolition was continuing at the site, with civil construction such as water infrastructure set to start next week and apartment construction to begin mid-year, director Earl Hope-Pearson said.