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Vandalism at Huntly railway station forces Waikato District Council to approve more funding

The price of vandalism became clear when Waikato District Councillors recently approved extra funding to repair the original 1939 heritage building at Raahui Pookeka - Huntly railway station following an arson attack in June 2023.

Up to $222,000 was approved to cover the uninsured costs of the project and comes after a significant delay in the insurance claiming process.

Deputy General Manager Service Delivery at Waikato District Council Anthony Averill says this is a clear indication that vandalism not only costs money, but also time.

“The extra funds are required to cover cost escalations, delays while we’ve sought extra consents from KiwiRail, and some uninsured aspects related to the fire such as holding costs for the builders,” says Anthony.

“The allocation of the extra funding will enable us to deliver the project and complete the building to the white wall interior that had previously been scoped.”

Council has supplied the extra funding by reallocating costs from a seismic building upgrade project that is no longer required.

“There is some $40,000 outstanding to be agreed with the insurer, but the additional funding means we can press ahead and conclude the project,” Anthony says.

Moving forward, the project team is finalising prices with the builders, who are set to return to the site next week.

“It’s been a long journey to try to rectify the damage made by the fire and move forward with the project. What we’re focused on now are the next steps we need to take to complete the project and the extent of work we can deliver.”

The insurance process so far has seen Council claim $344,081 in costs arising from the arson. At the time of writing, the Council has received a settlement proposal from the Loss Adjusters for $294,081. Council is seeking the balance of the $50,000 of its full claim.

The insurance process began after one section of the building, which had been relocated from Lake Puketirini to Raahui Pookeka Huntly railway station in June 2023, was set ablaze in an act of arson which caused significant damage and delays to the project.

The relocation of the historic railway building was part of a wider project that has seen the railway station equipped with a new platform, security cameras, lighting, a park-and-ride service, taxi bays, passenger information display boards, and walking and cycling links.

To complement the new and improved station, the historic building will be home to a new museum about the history of one of Aotearoa’s main mining areas.