last Thursday, the following council “media advisory” was received:

Kapiti Community Centre building condition looked at

Te Newhanga Community Centre users and Kapiti Coast District councillors heard today that Council is working on developing options to address recommended remedial work for the Centre’s  Paraparaumu building over the next 12 months. This is part of continued preparations and work with the community to eventually shift Centre services back to a community-based provider.

Council took over day-to-day operations on an interim basis in 2018 to get the Centre on a sustainable footing before awarding its annual contract to a new service operator for the Kāpiti community.

“As part of our work to better understand this asset prior to handover, testing has highlighted weather-tightness issues,” Group Manager Place and Space James Jefferson said.

The latest test report has shown evidence of moulds contained in the building’s walls including low levels of stachybotris spores which can affect people with low immunity or who are unwell.

However, unlike the Waikanae Library which necessitated immediate closure, air quality testing showed stachybotris was not present in the air at the Centre.

Centre users can keep using the site for their programmes and activities and Council has completed further air-quality testing this week.

If it becomes necessary to temporarily shift programmes Council will work directly with programme providers on alternatives suitable for their situation.

“We’re actively monitoring the situation and repeating these tests regularly so we can stay on top of any changes as a result of the weather-tightness issues,” James Jefferson says.

General Manager, People and Partnerships, Janice McDougall says the Council has taken a community partnership approach in looking after the Centre.

“We know the services the Centre provides are highly valued by all users, programme providers and participants.

“It’s likely that the Council will need to continue its role as caretaker kaitiaki of the services for a little longer than planned and we’re committed to working in collaboration with the community as we consider the next steps.

“We’ll continue our focus on shaping up strong and sustainable community wellbeing services,” she said.

Naturally, it’s a statement produced by the council spin machine.  It resulted in this prompt and more forthright article on the Stuff website in which Cr Michael Scott is quoted as saying, “They’re proposing to spend $1.2 million on a building worth $1.2 million. The only money we should be spending is to run a bulldozer over it.”

He is also quoted as saying, “We should close it now, we should be saying to our community we will not take risks with their health, this is effectively saying their health is not important to us.”

On the face of it, he’s right. Certainly, it’s not worth spending that sort of money or anything close to it.

But who’s to blame?  More information needs to be obtained to establish that.  But the council can’t claim to have been unaware of the problem as it has been and remains widespread, clearly caused by the use of cheap and nasty materials and methods going back quite a few years.

Another example of shoddy materials — which affected us — was polybutylene Black Dux plumbing pipes which were notorious for bursting and were eventually banned circa 1989, but not before lots of houses were built with them in floors, ceilings and walls.  In 2006 in our house we simply had to replace all of it inside and out.

According to this government website on the subject of leaky buildings:

“A leaky building is one where moisture gets between the exterior cladding … and the inside walls. If there’s no way for the water to drain out because of a lack of drainage and ventilation between the cladding and the framework, the water becomes trapped. The walls can potentially rot and dangerous fungus can grow, causing structural problems for the building and health problems for those who live there.

“Houses identified as having a high risk of leaking are those built in the Mediterranean style (without eaves and with flat roofs), using monolithic cladding systems. They usually feature textured wall surfaces made out of plaster over polystyrene or fibre-cement sheet. Buildings built with this sort of cladding between the late 1980s and the mid-2000s need to be inspected thoroughly.

“Unfortunately, other styles of buildings can suffer from weather-tightness issues if good building practices haven’t been followed or the materials used are defective.”