NZ Post opts for new site

By Doug Laing

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The aftershocks of the Canterbury earthquakes have ripped further into the business heart of Napier. New Zealand Post is getting out of the historic Post Office building at the end of this week.

The move includes the Post Office boxes and ends 84 years of postal services in the three-storey building, which opened on the corner of Hastings and Dickens streets in 1928 and survived the Hawke's Bay Earthquake, three years later.

Including shifting the Kiwibank agency, it comes as a result of seismic assessment of commercial and public buildings throughout New Zealand since the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes.

The Post Office meets present Napier City requirements, but New Zealand Post spokesman John Tulloch said the company had set higher standards.

While it will still be responsible for the ongoing lease in central Napier, it's moving to vacant space facing Wellesley Rd in the Balmoral Shopping Centre, from where it will reopen on Monday.

It was expected to be temporary, for up to two years, as NZ Post considered permanent options.

Mr Tulloch said the company regretted leaving such an historic building, and the inconvenience to people who had used the Post Office for many years.

The "big driver" in selecting the Wellesley Rd site was obtaining somewhere as close as possible to the Post Office within the "time-frame" set by the company.

The New Zealand Post decision comes as the ASB remains in temporary premises awaiting restrengthening of its building on the southern corner of the intersection of Hastings and Emerson streets and built in 1932 for the Bank of New Zealand.

Owners of dozens of commercial buildings are considering their options amid the seismic assessments which threaten their structures and which have attracted a mixture of scepticism among owners and in engineering circles.

One in the engineering fraternity was particularly surprised there should be any issues with the Post Office, which he said had "withstood the test."

Procedures were in some cases establishing the credentials of buildings based on "ticks in boxes" rather than the "proof" of the buildings' existence, and tests for taller buildings being applied to buildings of no more than two to three storeys, he said.

The Napier City council was however doing a "good and responsible" job in the way it dealt with the issue, he said.

Post Office building owners' spokesman Gerald Grocott said New Zealand Post had made the decision to move and there was no requirement for anyone to vacate.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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