Civic Centre

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The Civic Centre by the numbers

Between December 2016 and August 2017:

  • Around 20,000 library issues or renewals
  • Over 4000 museum visitors
  • Hosted over 30 community events or activities

What you can find at the Civic Centre

The Civic Centre currently houses Environment Canterbury (ECAN), the Library, Museum and Council.


The library is very popular and regularly hosts activities including toddler time and kids activities, the Family History Club, The Next Chapter Club, free computer literacy sessions and school visits. It opened to the public on December 5th 2016.  

More about the Library 

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The move to the Centre was a significant step for the Musuem. The new location and increase in space meant the potential for many more visitors to come and enjoy many more exhibits.

They regularly host events ranging from information evenings and free days for residents to book launches and school visits. Organisations that have made use of the museum include Kaikōura High school, Primary school, Hapuku school, the Retail Association, the Council, Mayfair Theatre and Dementia Canterbury.

The excellent interior design of the museum has won a number of awards with judges particularly impressed by its’ ability to display our Districts history and culture to an international audience without losing the Kaikōura charm or authenticity.  Read more here 

More about the Museum 

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Environment Canterbury (ECAN)

During the earthquake response the ECAN office space was used by New Zealand Defence Force personnel. The ECAN offices opened to the public in January 2017. 

More about Environment Canterbury 

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Kaikōura District Council

The Council offices house all Council staff including those brought on as a result of the earthquake. There are also meeting rooms, Council Chambers and facilities for staff. Council meeting rooms can be hired or used by community groups. Video conferencing facilities are available. A computer is available for public use free of charge. 

More about Kaikoura District Council

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How the Civic Centre performed in the quake

The Civic Centre played a vital role during the Kaikōura earthquakes. Thanks to its’ innovative and robust design, the Centre performed very well and suffered little damage.

Council had moved into the Centre on Friday 11th November but when the earthquake struck much of the unpacking and set up had yet to be done.  Once cleared for use, it became the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) from which the response to the earthquake was coordinated. As well as Civil Defence and Council staff, the building housed New Zealand Defence Force, NZ Police and Fire staff and the Red Cross and the geotechnical teams.

Kd Scattergood, Council’s Emergency Management Officer said, “the Centre made the response so much easier to organise. The sense of security and safety the new offices gave shell-shocked Council staff and residents during the frequent aftershocks in the months following the quake cannot be underestimated.”

At its’ busiest over 200 people per shift worked out of the Centre. Hundreds of residents and visitors came through its’ doors in the weeks and months following the quake looking for information, support or to contribute to the response and recovery efforts.

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The design and construction story 

Discussions about a new building began in the early 2000’s.

Over the years a number of suggested locations and the inclusion/exclusion of facilities including the Museum, Library, Council offices and other office/service space were all hotly debated.

The design and site for the Civic Centre as we know it today was decided in 2012. It was decided that the Centre should deliver a “one stop shop” for services and be built to high environmental and sustainability standards, in keeping with the District’s focus on sustainability.

The Centre’s design is largely based on engineered timber and used combinations of materials and techniques that were a world-first, making building very seismically strong. Every effort was made to plan for the future, thinking about what residents and visitors were likely to need and want over the next several decades. Where possible, local labour and materials were used to help support the local economy.

The design, development and eventual construction of the Centre caused a great deal of public interest including opposition to aspects of the project. Because of the innovative design and construction materials the project also encountered several challenges along the way.

The Council has learnt from these challenges and continues to review and improve its performance and processes wherever possible. The recently completed restructure included significant changes to the management team. A top priority for the new team is making sure all Council assets, including the Civic Centre, are effectively managed in the future.


In the 2012 financial year $560,000 was spent on project initiation and concept design costs.

Project Construction Finances


Budget 2015/16 financial year *includes a loan of $1,740,000


Construction costs (including landscaping, construction and fit out)


Overrun (funded from Council reserves)



A Civic Centre charge was introduced in the 2015/2016 financial year to cover the cost of the loan and the ongoing cost of running the building (electricity, cleaning, maintenance, etc).

For the 2018/19 rating year, the charge is $67.92 per separately used or inhabited part of a rating unit.

During the project there was a product failure of roofing panels and cladding replacement. The Council sought and received compensation for this through an insurance claim. Council believes the insurance settlement fairly recognised the impact the product failure had on the build and the project. The Council is satisfied that the end result was acceptable and covered the costs to the ratepayer created by the product failure. 

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Useful links

Stories about the building design:

Older Council updates on the Centre's construction: