It had to be one of the misleading images of the year - gaping holes in the roof of Napier Boys' High School's Henderson Hall and a crane with its boom working from above.
But the real picture was at floor level, where a pneumatic hammer suspended from the crane has this week driven new piles 3.8 metres into the ground as part of a $750,000 restrengthening and restoration of the hall, which has been closed since late-March because of earthquake risk.
Parts of the floor were lifted to enable the work to be done, exposing the sand base otherwise unseen since the hall was built 73 years ago.
While it may have seemed the work has been timed for the end of the year when less pupils are around, principal Ross Brown said it was only after the sudden closure that the real extent of structural deterioration emerged
"It's taken this long to get the engineer's solution," he said yesterday, checking the progress of what he said were "tricky and precise" improvements which the post-closure inspection showed were "certainly needed."
The novel solutions, including new portals and new south wall exterior buttresses to support new beams which will span the ceiling, should be completed by Simkin Construction by February, in time for the new school year. The hall's first public function is the 1931 earthquake survivors' lunch.