It’s great to get prompt feedback – and that’s what we got in response to our raising questions about the Government’s $22 million investment in a bit of real estate in Hokitika.
A Beehive press officer contacted us to question our headline, which said: DOC staff in Hokitika could have been housed for a song a few years ago – now it will cost us $22 million.
The Beehive staffer said this suggests the Govt is spending $22m buying Seddon House when it could have been bought “for a song” some years ago.
But this (he contended) was misleading because:
“The vast bulk of the $22m is going towards the restoration of building with only $400k on the actual purchase.”
The Beehive staffer acknowledged this detail wasn’t included in the announcement on the website.
He also sent us the background notes that accompanied the full press release to the Greystar on Saturday.
An intriguing element of these notes is that when all is done and dusted, the refurbished building might no longer be called Seddon House.
This suggests the building has historical importance worth a $22 million investment, but not the name.
Anyone care to suggest “O’Connor House”? Or will a local Maori be honoured?
The background notes say –
Who was Seddon?
Richard Seddon followed the allure of gold to New Zealand and was a goldfields miner, first elected to parliament in 1879. In 1893 he became the Prime Minister of New Zealand, a post he held until his death in 1906. He was the only Prime Minister in New Zealand from the West Coast and remains the longest serving Prime Minister in New Zealand’s history.
More about Seddon here: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/people/richard-seddon
How much did the building cost to purchase?
What condition is the building in at present?
The building has not been adequately maintained and has been unoccupied for some time. However, the construction is durable and in better than expected condition.
How many people work in the Hokitika DOC office?
85 people work at the Hokitika DOC regional office campus, with 41 seasonal staff.
Did DOC consider leaving the Hokitika CBD?
DOC has considered a number of options for accommodating staff, which included sites outside of the Hokitika CBD. However it was recognised that it was important to stay in the commercial core of Hokitika. Keeping large organisations such as DOC in the CBD is important for the vitality and economic health of the downtown area and the businesses there.
Will the building continue to be known as Seddon House?
The immediate priority is to ensure the property is strengthened, restored and reopened as a valued and important community facility. Discussions will be held with iwi, stakeholders and the wider community on a range of matters relating to the future use of the property. This could include the name.
What will happen to the existing DOC site?
The existing site is largely owned by a private landlord and leased by DOC. Once the restoration of Seddon House is complete, this lease will end and DOC will no longer use the site.
A final thought from your scribes at Point of Order: what would be the cost if the Government knocked over the building it has bought for $400,000 and built a new regional office for DOC? We recommend this option be explored for its obvious budgetary attractions at a time when the public debt is climbing.