GHL Delivers Top Class Building for Council

January 19, 2019

Awarua is proving a real head-turner.

GHL is still in the throes of handing over the new Fitzherbert Street administration building to Gisborne District Council, but already there is plenty of feedback.

GHL chief executive Matt Feisst says it seems the 3100 square metre building has exceeded expectations all round.

“It is the first big project for us, and a lot of people are pleasantly surprised with the outcome,” he said.

The aim was to have council staff in the building before Christmas, which was achieved. Awarua can house up to 250 people. Part of the building is rated IL4 for Civil Defence purposes and has an emergency power supply with utilities – sewage storage and water – capabilities to cope in a disaster for up to four days.

It is a four-star equivalent green building with lower long term running costs and a healthy, energy efficient working environment. The simple and effective design will mean reduced ongoing maintenance costs while still looking smart.

The gently curved sides of the building pay homage to the waka and ships that have brought ancestors to Tairawhiti. Tohunga Derek Lardelli was the one to soften the original concept, introducing a spiritual and very special story to the rebuild.

Awa means pathway and rua means the repository of knowledge. The building was officially opened this week.

“We have worked with GDC to provide a building that encourages community engagement,” says Mr Feisst.

He extended a huge thank you to contractors Watts & Hughes and their subcontractors.

“They have all really come to the party and made it the success it is,” he said.

The build was not without challenges, with the discovery of significant levels of asbestos and poor soil conditions and rubbish under the previous buildings, along with bones and other debris, which halted work on some of the site briefly.

There is still a little finishing work to be done before the final handover on January 31 when it gets its Code of Compliance. It already has its Certificate of Public Use.

The landscaping will be taken care of by Council’s team.

GHL now turns its full attention to the first stage of the $8m Waikanae TOP 10 Holiday Park renovation.

This year GHL distributed $2.548m to its shareholder Council, which subsidised rates by 5% or $115 per ratepayer.

“We are looking to increase our subsidy of core council infrastructure in the future,” says Mr Feisst. “GHL is here purely for the community, and to help fund that essential core infrastructure.”