Kelly Makiha is the Rotorua Daily Post's head of news

Work starts on new $18.5m police station

Construction of Rotorua's new world- class $18.5 million police station is finally under way.

This month, site work began on the new station which will accommodate both Rotorua staff and the Bay of Plenty District Headquarters, which have been at an office on Hinemoa St.

The first phase of the redevelopment which involved the construction of a new custody facility was completed in July 2008.

Rotorua police area commander Inspector Bruce Horne told The Daily Post the old police station was "awful" and staff were delighted with the innovative design of the new building.

He said the redevelopment was a joint effort involving Leuchske Group from Auckland, Vincent Chrisp from Melbourne (which had built several police stations in Victoria, Australia) and Te Arawa designer and artist Lyonel Grant.

The design of the building reflected some of the unique features of Rotorua, in particular the prominence of Maori art and culture. He said designers were also aware of the importance of tourism to the Rotorua community and the fact the new station was in a prominent site in the heart of the city.

"The design of the building, in particular the internal layout, also reflects the community orientated philosophy of modern policing in New Zealand," said Mr Horne.

"Modern police stations are community facilities. In addition to the dozens of people who come to police stations seeking our help with a wide range of issues and problems, every day we have community groups meeting in our police station to discuss how we can work together to solve community safety problems.

"Maori wardens, youth workers, community patrollers and a wide variety of people working to reduce family violence are just a few of our community partners who routinely meet with us.

"The facilities at the old station were awful. The temporary building has been an improvement, but the new station will be world-class."

Mr Horne said given Rotorua's geothermal environment and the importance of the new police station being able to withstand and remain functional after an earthquake, great care had been taken with the design of the foundations and structural walls.

It will be among the first in New Zealand to use a new earthquake resistant design system known as PRESSS (PREcast Seismic Structural System). PRESSS was developed at the University of California in San Diego during the 1990s under the leadership of New Zealand structural engineer Nigel Priestly.

The PRESSS system uses tensioning cables within concrete walls, beams and columns that allow the building to move in an earthquake without sustaining significant structural damage.

"What will surprise some people is that we have managed to do all of these things within the standard Government budget allocation on a per square metre rate for this sort of project, so the community and the Government really are getting great value for money," Mr Horne said.

A photograph of the design of the new police station was recently posted on the Rotorua Police's Facebook page, attracting a mixed reaction.

One person wrote: "It's a police station not a bl***y events centre. What a waste of money building something that flashy in that location. Expect some angry taxpayers and ratepayers".

Another wrote: "It was only 4 crims anyway or what do they need a mansion coz thats what it looks like there getting ... lucky buggaz!"

But many others were supportive of the new station.

"That old police station was an eye sore and needed upgrading," one person wrote.

"A police station is not just for criminals, it is the work office of our very deserving police officers who do a great job in today's very hard society and I think they deserve a nice building and office area to work in," another wrote on Facebook.

The scheduled completion date for the new station is March 31, 2014.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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