St Gerard’s built on rock – can survive an eathquake

St Gerard’s Maintenance and Restoration Trust chairman Gordon Copeland says they are seeking a second opinion about the earthquake rating of the heritage listed St Gerard’s Monastery that looks down on Wellington Harbour.

It hoped to receive the results soon, and that they will prove far less strengthening work, or even none, is needed.

In the meantime the Trust has halted fundraising for strengthening work, which has reached about $100,000.

Copeland said a friend told him about a similar 1932 reinforced concrete building in Christchurch, the old High St Post Office, which survived the 6.3-magnitude February 2011 quake unscathed.

Both it and the monastery were built after the 1931 Napier earthquake with higher seismic standards.

Added to that, the monastery’s concrete foundations were built on rock, and the buildings were strengthened in the 1980s when steel bracing was put in the church roof and monastery floor.

“Because of the Christchurch earthquakes and the legal liabilities faced by engineers, I think they were being super-cautious,” Copeland said.

The Monastery was yellow-stickered after the original seismic engineer’s report assessed the buildings as needing major strengthening to reach or exceed 34 per cent of new building standards.

The 1908 unreinforced masonry church was deemed to meet 26 per cent of the building code.

The adjoining reinforced concrete monastery, built in 1932, was assessed to be 18 per cent.

The predicted $10m strengthening bill shocked St Gerard’s owners, the Institute for World Evangelisation – ICPE New Zealand, a lay missionary group, which bought St Gerard’s in 1990.


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