Central Wellington residents forced out of their homes due to an earthquake-damaged lift shaft are expected to be given the all-clear to return on Friday.

Wellington City Council said dismantling of the Lukes Lane lift shaft, which sustained significant damage in both the July 21 quake and the recent Friday jolt, was nearly complete.

The top of the shaft had already been taken down, leaving only the lower part to be dismantled, council spokesman Clayton Anderson said.

"We're expecting that to be completed by Friday and for people who are in the surrounding apartments to be able to go back to their accommodation.''


The Christchurch crane which had been shipped up for the job would likely be returned on Monday, Mr Anderson said.

A three-metre wide sinkhole, which formed on Hobson Street in Thorndon yesterday was also undergoing repairs.

The hole formed after a vintage stormwater drain, believed to be from the early 20th century, collapsed.

While there were a number of older stormwater drains in Wellington, Mr Anderson said it was unlikely any were compromised.

"This particular section of the [Hobson Street] pipe may have been weakened by a waste water pipe crossing it and crossing through one or two layers of brick. It possibly could have been aggravated by the earthquakes ... but we still have to investigate it.''

The damaged area of the road would be closed off until then, Mr Anderson said.

Further south, Marlborough property owners are being reminded to perform regular maintenance and safety of private dams.

Marlborough District Council regulatory manager Hans Versteegh said about 150 dams existed on private land in the district. Most were graded `low impact' in terms of risk.


The Haldon Dam, which is currently being drained after it was found to be at increased risk of breaching following Friday's swarm of quakes, was one of the few graded `medium' impact, Mr Versteegh said.

Any dams containing more than 20,000 cubic metres of water required building and resource consent and associated operations and management plans.

Under the law, the burden rests with the owners to maintain safety, he said. In the case of the Haldon Dam, the owner was obligated to report the problems.

If nothing had been done to relieve the risk, ``the Council, under the Building Act, has the power to step in and require measures to be taken to avoid immediate danger''.

Three `high impact' council dams _ two of which are in Picton and one which is on the outskirts of Blenheim - had all been checked and given the all clear.

Drainage of the Haldon Dam was expected to be completed tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a team from the Earthquake Commission was currently in Blenheim surveying property damage. The Marlborough District Council has urged any homeowners with property damage to contact their insurance companies and lodge a claim with EQC. Concerns regarding safety of properties should be reported to the Council on 03 520 7400.