Rotorua Museum will be closed for at least the next two years and is losing up to $300,000 a month after it was damaged in November's earthquake.

But, some councillors are not happy with progress toward repairing the iconic building and want council staff to help speed up the process.

Rotorua Lakes Council met for the first time this year at a meeting of the council's Operations and Monitoring Committee today where councillors were given an update on the state of the museum.

Council chief financial officer Thomas Colle said the Category One heritage building would be closed for at least two years.


He said an engineer's assessment and rating of the building, which had been expected in April, was now likely to be ready in June and it would take another six months to formulate the design options for its repair.

"Effectively we have completed stage one, which is the preliminary investigation, which has highlighted a few issues particularly around the floor and foundations in the old part of the building."

He said the next stage would be a more thorough investigation involving engineers getting in behind walls and drilling cores in foundations to understand what was under the building.

Mr Colle said the closure of the museum had a significant influence on the council's budgets especially since it had been closed during peak tourism season and he expected a budget shortfall of $1.3 million by the end of the financial year.

This included a loss of revenue and additional costs for 21 museum staff being made redundant.

But, he said insurance policies would kick in after the $5 million excess had been reached, and he was confident loss of revenue and repair costs would total well over that figure.

In the meantime, he said, staff had accelerated council asset sales of surplus commercial and residential properties at Western Rd ($2 million), surplus commercial properties ($2.5 million) and the sale of carbon credits banked by the Rotorua landfill worth $1.3 million.

Committee chairman Charles Sturt and councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait were concerned the investigation and repairs were taking too long.


"We should be setting's far too long...can we put a torch under them [engineers] and get on with it?

"Otherwise we are getting down to selling the family silver," Mrs Raukawa-Tait said.

Mr Colle said the engineers were working as fast as they could.

Mayor Steve Chadwick said while it was not good news, the council needed the right information before anything was finalised.

"But I feel optimistic, we are not saying it will be closed forever."

She said Rotorua MP Todd McClay had been talking to the Government about what it could do to help and Rotorua community groups were keen to help.

Rotorua Museum
- Won't be operational for at least two more years
- Preliminary engineering reports found problems with the old floor and foundations
- Insurance excess of $5 million should be reached
- 21 staff made redundant
- Losing about $300,000 a month