Hokitika's relocated pioneer statue gives retired engineer that sinking feeling

By Janna Sherman

Max Dowell lines up a plumb-bob to check the level of Hokitika's pioneer statue, which he believes is slumping slightly to the south-east. Photo / Janna Sherman
Max Dowell lines up a plumb-bob to check the level of Hokitika's pioneer statue, which he believes is slumping slightly to the south-east. Photo / Janna Sherman

Hokitika's pioneer statue, firstly relocated on the wrong axis, now may be slumping slightly in one corner.

Retired engineer Max Dowell says he believes the weighty statue is sinking in one corner due to poor foundation work in the roundabout, which was formerly a garden.

However, the Westland District Council again says it is satisfied the work was done properly.

Mr Dowell said it was noticeable to the eye that the statue was leaning in the south-east corner, towards the Regent Theatre - and he was not the only one.

Max Dowell lines up his plumb-bob against  the pioneer statue. Photo / Janna Sherman
Max Dowell lines up his plumb-bob against the pioneer statue. Photo / Janna Sherman

"People are complaining, which convinced me to take a plumb bob down and sight it from various corners, and it has definitely got a lean on."

Mr Dowell said if a building consent had been obtained in the first place, a building inspector would have been able to insist that proper foundations were in place before the plinth was built and the statue moved from its original site at the corner of Fitzherbert and Stafford streets.

"It was boxed up and poured straight on top of the old garden and where they dug out the Havill light, with no hardfill put in its place," Mr Dowell said.

"It's sinking on one side, towards the Regent Theatre."

Council district assets group manager Vivek Goel acknowledged yesterday that people had raised concerns soon after the statue was moved that it appeared to be on a lean.

"We had people come and tell us it's going to fall in two days ... but that hasn't happened," Mr Goel said.

Project leader Jacquie Grant - who has said she will not be commenting publicly on the statue again - addressed the previous council on the alleged concerns at their final meeting.

In response to a complaint to the Ombudsmen on the work by Westland Residents and Ratepayers Association member Hugh Cameron, Ms Grant countered the claims that the project had been done by "amateurs" and was "ready to topple over" with no site preparation and lack of engineering oversight.

She said the roundabout had been dug out by Westroads, which had also poured the base underneath the statue.

"We then did the rest of the plinth which was about 2.5m of concrete. We poured it on to eight pieces of rebar that Westroads had put in for use on the base - adequate to tie the small amount of concrete into the base," she said.

"I'm hearing that it's crumbling and that it's this and it's that ... there's nothing wrong with the concrete. Tests prove it," Ms Grant told councillors.

Mr Goel said yesterday the council had also spoken to the contractors and they were satisfied with the work.

"The previous council accepted it. They were happy."

Meanwhile, the missing parts of the statue are expected to be in place soon.

Mayor Bruce Smith said weather depending, the hand and arm would be going on next week.

Last month Mr Goel said he had been assured by Ms Grant that the missing pieces would be installed by the end of October.

He said yesterday the delay was due to getting someone to put them on.

The statue plinth has also yet to be plastered.

Hokitika Guardian

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 25 May 2017 07:09:15 Processing Time: 526ms