Civic Centre

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The Civic Centre by the numbers

During the earthquake response:

  • Over 200 people per shift worked out of the building at peak times
  • Provided office space for staff from over 10 agencies including: Civil Defence, New Zealand Defence Force, NZ Police, Fire and Emergency NZ, Red Cross, Kaikōura, Christchurch and Otago Councils and geotechnical teams.

Between December 2016 and August 2017:

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

The Civic Centre today

Since November 2016 the Civic Centre has provided much needed space for the Recovery Team, Environment Canterbury (ECAN), the Library, Museum and Council itself to support the rebuild of Kaikōura's infrastructure and community.

Talking about the Centre, CEO Angela Oosthuizen said, “Since the earthquake we’ve seen the Centre make it easier for Council and ECAN to deliver services and support to our community. This is what the building was planned and design for and it’s been really great to see it come together so effectively. We’re incredibly fortunate that we had the building when the earthquake struck, I don’t think its designers would ever have dreamed it would be tested so thoroughly or so soon after completion but, thanks to the way it was built, it proved itself a bit of a God-send when we really needed it.”


The earthquake delayed the public opening of the library until December 5th 2016.  Between December 2016 and August 2017 the library has completed nearly 20,000 issues or renewals, registered 155 new borrowers and now has a total borrower membership of 4,062.

The library has been very popular and hosted several activities including toddler time and kids activities, the Family History Club, The Next Chapter Club, free computer literacy sessions and school visits from over 200 students. It also provides free Wi-fi. Upcoming activities include; yoga, a magician and the Summer Reading Programme.


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.

Since opening to the public the museum has had over 4000 visitors and now has a membership of  229. They’ve hosted eighteen events ranging from earthquake 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 

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 and are now well up and running. As Kevin Heays, Kaikōura Zone Manager & Ecan Kaikōura Office Manager, says, “we always supported the one-stop-shop concept as a win for ratepayers. Collaboration and service sharing opportunities are developing successfully and this co-location is becoming essential to KDC and ECAN staff and our customers.”

“Our colleagues from Christchurch are cueing up to visit us in our “digs” and are blown away by the facility. The arrangement we have here is being mooted as the benchmark for other ECAN rural offices” he said.

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.

“The earthquake and subsequent changes to Councils work and priorities have meant that the way we use the building is continually evolving. Thanks to the flexibility of the design and the patience of the staff we’ve been able to fit in a lot more people than we had originally planned as well as providing spaces for those affected by the quake to seek information and help,” said CEO Angela Oosthuizen.

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.

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). It is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. The total cost per rating unit from these charges for the last three years is just over $144.

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. Details of that claim are subject to commercial confidentiality and cannot be revealed. However, CEO Angela Oosthuizen said ‘the insurance settlement Council received fairly recognised the impact the product failure had on the build and the project. The Council is satisfied that the end result was acceptable covered the costs to the ratepayer created by the product failure.’

Useful links

Older Council updates on the Centre's construction:

Stories about the building design: