The demolition of Waipukurau Hospital has begun in earnest.

It's bittersweet news.

Sweet, because for years it's resembled the aftermath of a Sarajevo airstrike. Forsaken doesn't begin to describe it.

In fact when I pulled some old photos up on my computer yesterday a colleague assumed they were shots of post-quake Christchurch.


Bitter, because this isn't just an empty commercial building.

Albeit vestigial and grossly disfigured, there's still an element of sanctity to be found in the empty edifice.

Vandalism and a serious inferno in 2010, haven't helped, but neither have they hidden the fact this was a treasured community asset since 1879.

Hawke's Bay born and bred brothers Russell and Gary Deakin were the successful bidders for the 3.4ha site, which sold for $180,000 late last year.

There'd be many in Central Hawke's Bay pleased that these two have taken it on. Whatever the Deakin brothers decide to do on this beleaguered patch, we wish them all the best.

As a CHB expat, my view of the hospital is coloured through a few emotive childhood memories. I remember visiting my unwell grandfather, who would later die there. Plus there were a few visits to the unwell friends.

Then there was the time my mother took me into the hallowed halls where a kindly old doctor painfully re-socketed a thumb I'd dislocated in a game of primary school rugby.

The hospital may have been a monumental eyesore since its closure in 1999 - but it was also a monument to 120 years of duty of care.