recent developments
Thursday, 18 October 2018 - In readiness for the construction phase of Rotorua Museum, due to get underway mid next year, the remaining 25 taonga (treasures) have been safely removed from the Bath House building into specialised storage facilities.  These artefacts were located in the newer southern end of the Museum, the Don Stafford Wing, and due to their size and the complex relocation process, were the last to be moved.
While many of the taonga will remain in Rotorua during construction, due to the limited availability of controlled environment storage space, some are returning to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, and Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira, for safekeeping whilst the Bath House building is strengthened and redeveloped.
Since opening the Don Stafford Wing in 2011 the iconic Pūkaki has welcomed visitors to the Ngā Pūmanawa o Te Arawa exhibition at Rotorua Museum. This 182 year old carving depicts the revered Ngāti Whakaue rangatira (chief) who was a great military leader.
The Rotorua Museum team will continue to care for Pūkaki alongside more than 55,000 items within its collection.  Rotorua Museum Operations Manager, Cat Jehly, explains how the complex planning around safely moving these objects has taken over a year.
“Discussions and coordination with lenders and whānau began very early on, with guidance from Te Pukenga Kōeke o Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa and Ngāti Whakaue.  Because of the size and weight of these taonga we enlisted the assistance of professional conservators, engineers, riggers, local builders and other museum professionals alongside our own Museum team to carry out this project.  The largest single piece was Te Rangitakaroro, a 6.3 metre high carved waharoa, which when crated is estimated to weigh close to 1.2 tonnes,” explains Ms Jehly.
timeline to date
September 2018: DPA Architects, which has previous experience refurbishing Rotorua Museum, will carry out the design work for the restoration of the heritage Bath House building with help from local firm, Carling Architects.  DPA has a track record of working on heritage buildings around the country. It is also familiar with the specific challenges of the Bath House from its time doing the heritage renovations in 1997 when they worked on the foyer, reception and some of the original baths.
May 2018: Rotorua Lakes Council long term plan signed off following community consultation. Council approved $15 million towards strengthening the Rotorua Museum building with the balance required to be sourced externally.
February 2018 to December 2018: Structural design developed into detailed drawings and specifications with estimated costs.
December 2017 to February 2018:  Engineers GDC developed the structural concept design for strengthening the building, for review by Rotorua Lakes Council and Heritage New Zealand.
December 2017: Detailed seismic assessment was completed which rated the building at 19 per cent of new building standard. Buildings below 34 per cent are considered earthquake prone, while those under 67 per cent are considered earthquake risk.
August 2017 to December 2017: Four structural strengthening options were evaluated, and the preferred option selected.
December 2016 to August 2017: Research, destructive testing and analysis to determine the condition of the building and the ground on which it sits.
18 November 2016: Rotorua Museum closed following a rapid seismic risk assessment which determined the building was earthquake prone.
next steps
○  Now to December 18: Developed design phase
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December 18–July 19: Detailed design phase
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July 19: Contractor procurement and construction commencement
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Jul 19 - 2020: Construction
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2021: Exhibition installation prior to Museum reopening
project breakdown
Why are we doing this?
Our iconic museum was closed in November 2016 due to damage discovered following the Kaikoura earthquake. A Detailed Seismic Assessment of Rotorua Museum has shown it falls well below earthquake safety standards and needs to remain closed to the public  until it is strengthened and restored. Since the building’s closure, Council has been working to fully understand the work required to bring the building back to a safe standard and to look at options for restoration.  
Rotorua’s strengths of strong culture and diverse opportunities are reflected in Council’s commitment to restore, maintain and provide a world renowned Museum.  Restoring and re-opening our beloved Museum is considered vital to the vibrancy of Rotorua, both culturally and from a visitor attraction perspective.
Rotorua’s history needs to continue to be told through the stories portrayed in the exhibitions and our culture needs to be preserved and relived through the experience offered at the Museum.  The Bathhouse is seen as the most appropriate place to do this as it is history in itself and a major exhibition.  
The Museum is still providing a range of services ‘beyond the walls’ including education programmes, events, and free guided tours of Government Gardens.
What is proposed?
Investigations to assess the extent of damage to Rotorua Museum started in early 2017.  Extensive testing and research was needed to fully understand the building, from initial construction in 1908 to 2011.  Geotechnical testing, looking at the ground under and around the museum has also been conducted. 
Because the museum has Category 1 heritage status (the most important category of heritage buildings) extreme care has been needed when conducting these tests to ensure the process doesn’t damage the building further. 
All of this work has been required to inform the development of the most appropriate plan to repair and strengthen the building. 
In October 2017 Council agreed to progress to detailed costings for a preferred option to assist in deciding how to proceed.
Council proposed to undertake the necessary seismic strengthening of the building to bring it up to a minimum of 80% of the national building standards, to repair long term maintenance issues including water tightness, replace the roof, upgrade exhibitions content including digital engagement capability and repair damaged services from prolonged exposure to hydrogen sulphide.  
faqs
What did the Detailed Seismic Assessment involve? 
The DSA took months to complete due to the complexity of the building, its construction and the various testing that needed to be done. The assessment included researching existing documentation and information about the building, opening up and checking the strength of walls (destructive testing), investigating how the building was constructed, core sampling and scans, and geotechnical investigations in the area around the building. The assessment was carried out with input from Heritage New Zealand.
What do the cracks look like? 
There are cracks down walls on the ground floor of the old part of the museum. Some cracks run from the ceiling to the floor and continue along the floor. Overhead in the basement walkway there have been cracks for many years and a few of these have widened. Historically, there have always been cracks in the original part of the museum and these have been monitored for any change. New ones appeared after the Kaikoura earthquake.
Are the taonga in the museum safe? 
Yes all taonga have now been safely removed from the Museum and will remain in storage or at alternative locations until the museum reopens.
How many staff have been affected by the closure? 
20 staff were affected by the initial closure and were given the option of taking redundancy. Many were placed within other divisions within Council where there were vacancies and others were employed by local tourism operators who offered their assistance. A core group of staff were retained to continue providing events, education and holiday programmes and other museum services.
How will the cost of fixing the museum be covered? 
The significance of the building both historically and culturally means Council anticipates significant external contribution towards the restoration. Council assumes approximately 1/2 of the project could be funded externally. If the level of funding assumed is not available, the investment by Council will need to be further consulted upon within the community.  Those options may include to continue the project with more investment by Council, or to scale back the project to match available funding, or to look at alternative funding sources. 
What about insurance? 
Now that we have the detailed assessment, insurance is another matter we will need to work through. Insurance for council-owned assets is very different to, and much more complex than, other types of insurance so it’s not a simple question to answer. However, even if we were successful in terms of an insurance payout, it’s unlikely that would cover the full cost. Other funding sources will be needed.
When will the Museum reopen? 
The Museum is scheduled to reopen in 2021.
Why is the strengthening and restoration of the Museum taking so long? 
This building is not only loved by the Rotorua community, but it is also nationally significant so it’s really important that we take the time to do it properly. We aim to achieve this in a way that balances respect for the building’s heritage, achieves structural strength and is practical. What may be seen as a small change on the face of it can actually be incredibly tricky and time consuming to get right.
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