by Roger Childs
“At least 16 years of leaks and months of staff health concerns preceded the closure of a Kapiti Coast Library because of a dangerous mould.” (Dominion Post, 21 February 2019
Having recently visited Christchurch’s magnificent new TURANGA (base, foundation) library, it was sad to come back and see the Waikanae Library splashed on the front page of the Dominion Post for the wrong reasons. The multi-storeyed TURANGA is a great source of civic pride in the garden city, whereas in Kapiti the neglect of one of the libraries is a cause for shame. Mayors, councillors and CEOs since 2002 should hang their heads.
Some years ago the Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) built itself a palace in Paraparaumu and the mushrooming cost of that project was not disclosed until well after the construction had started. This was about the time when complaints about the safety of the Waikanae Library were surfacing. As locals are well aware, there was a proposal to redevelop the library and link it to an enlarged Mahara Gallery, but that scheme, along with many ideas Waikanae groups have suggested over the years, never made it beyond the talking and conceptual stage.
Libraries are key social and cultural hubs in all communities and the closure of the Waikanae facility is a major loss for the area. Mould, leaks and contaminated books have been issues for over a decade, but why was nothing done? Staff had made numerous complaints. Where were the engineers, health experts and building inspectors? What advocacy over the problems has been carried out by Waikanae ward Councillor Michael Scott?
Of major concern are the health risks of the toxic mould, which can cause cancer, and infants and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. How many borrowers have handed contaminated books and magazines in recent years?
There has been plenty of hand-wringing and “in hindsight” statements from KCDC in response to the closure, but is anyone taking the blame? As this is local body election year, voters will no doubt take into account the unforgiveable neglect of the Waikanae Library when casting their ballots.
We have an Official Information request pending for a report on the Waikanae Lbrary saga and will have more to say about this. –Eds