The Department of Conservation says it's proceeding with the demolition of Aniwaniwa Visitors' Centre, despite claims it failed to follow Government tendering requirements.
Historic Places Aotearoa had earlier forwarded a letter to Conservation Minster and Minister of Arts, Culture & Heritage, Maggie Barry, alleging the demolition contract was not advertised as required.
But DOC's operations director Meirene Hardy-Birch yesterday said the two contracts, including the salvaging of identified timbers and remaining demolition, weren't subject to the legislation.
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"Both contracts are under $100,000 and therefore neither is required under the Government Rules of Sourcing to be subject to open tender via the Government Electronic Tendering Services," Ms Hardy-Birch said.
She confirmed demolition had not been suspended and said work was continuing on site with the project.
The New Zealand Institute of Architects had also filed an Official Information Act request to ask on what basis DOC's demolition decision was made.
Labour's Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP, Meka Whaitiri, told Hawke's Bay Today the situation was "delicate". She said Ruapani iwi, which wants to save the 1976 John Scott-designed building, has a pending claim on the lake, but was yet to "mandate themselves".
"Tuhoe can't speak to Ruapani because Ruapani haven't mandated themselves," she said.
Ms Whaitiri said she wasn't sure whether the building warranted saving, but said she'd like to see a reprieve, at least until all parties had the chance to properly discuss the issue.
"What I'd like to see is all the parties sitting together at the same table so we're not talking past each other. There could possibly be a way of settling this, using the building as leverage."
She said the situation of Tuhoe, which now owns the land, yet had once "lost their land through the actions of the Crown", needed to be acknowledged.
She said the building reminded Tuhoe of a period where they were "landless in their own area".