A structural assessment of Picton Little Theatre is urgently needed. Photo: Matt Brown.

Picton Theatre on shaky ground

An historic Picton building is at risk of being destroyed should a large earthquake strike.

Picton Little Theatre has been part of the town for more than a century.

But members of the iconic drama draw are anxious it may not survive a future shake.

Talking to Marlborough District Councilors last week, acting chair Carmen Gimpl asked for money to put towards a full structural report in the long-term plan.

“The concern is will we be safe in the event of a large earthquake.

“It’s highly likely we’ll need up to $26,000 to complete a seismic assessment and then we’ll look at the design work that needs to be done.

“As one of the oldest buildings in Picton and were there to be a large earthquake … we have a duty to make sure the building is safe.

‘We’ll be very grateful for funds so we can start this journey as soon as possible,” she says.

The exact year when the Dublin St theatre was built is not known but best guesses put it around 1885 or 1886 when it was known as Forrester’s Hall.

Picton Drama Club later took up residence, in the first instance as sole tenants under a rent to buy arrangement.

The purchase was finalised in 1982.

Carmen Gimpl and Joy Fletcher. Photo: Matt Brown.
Carmen Gimpl and Joy Fletcher. Photo: Matt Brown.

The building hosts a amateur theatre, concerts, meetings, table tennis, dance classes and private functions.

Carmen says the committee had great plans for the theatre, but safety was a top priority.

“It’s a great little theatre. It’s cosy and well equipped. It seats up to 100 people and holds up to 130.

“There’s potential to do more and there’s enthusiasm within the committee to make that happen.

The theatre underwent repairs in 1999 but big changes in building codes means structural changes will need to take place.

“We’re in the process of updating the interior but maybe before we do all that we should find out what structural work needs to be done.

“There is no other community venue in the Picton CBD that can accommodate up to 130 people – and certainly none with PLT’s impressive heritage.

“The building has significant community and heritage value and it is important to protect and enhance this asset for Picton and Marlborough residents and visitors”.

Head of the Earthquake Commission Dame Silvia Cartwright. Photo: Supplied.

Public meeting to push for earthquake claim change

People whose lives are affected by the Seddon and Kaikoura earthquakes are being given the chance to push for change.

The repercussions of the devastating quakes are still being felt in the community today.

Head of the Earthquake Commission Dame Silvia Cartwright will be in Ward and Seddon later this month to hear first-hand about peoples’ experiences.

It is hoped the move will help pave the way forward for future practice and tackle concerns people have about the handling of their claims.

Almost 400 formal written submissions have been received about experiences with EQC.

Dame Silvia says it is vital people get the chance to be heard.

But the outcome of the inquiry will not affect individual insurance claims or outcomes.

“I appreciate it’s often not easy to revisit difficult past experiences, but I hope people will do it for themselves and for others who will face the effects of natural disasters in the future,” she says

“Some people have seen positive gains over time depending on who manages the claim, but that is still a contentious area,” she says

The independent Inquiry is tasked with making findings and recommendations as it relates to the operations, policies and service of EQC, following the Canterbury earthquakes and other natural disasters around New Zealand in recent years.

The Inquiry can find fault as it relates to EQC’s processes but will not apportion blame or revisit individual insurance claims or legal judgments.

Dame Silvia expects to report her findings and recommendations to the Governor-General by the end of 2019, and they can then be considered by the Government.

A meeting will be held on 18 June at Flaxbourne Community Hall on Ward St between 1-2pm and at Awatere Rugby Club on Seymour St between 3-4pm.

Court battle looms over “negligent” quake payment

A disgruntled homeowner is prepared to take his insurance company to court following claims of negligence that have left him $100,000 in the hole.

The person, who prefers to remain anonymous, from Seddon has been battling officials from IAG insurance company since his home was damaged in the 2016 earthquake.

But after almost three years, the fed-up Seddon resident is getting ready to make a claim for a further payout in court.

He says what he has been put through is a breach of the Consumer Guarantees and fair-trading acts.

“It’s fraud and deception by omission. They have been negligent.

“They have a code of ethics and conduct but yet here we are,” he says.

Issues began after the 7.8-magnitude Kaikōura when his Seddon home suffered damage to the concrete roof and piles.

But he says a structural engineer who came out to assess the destruction did not no go underneath the home, citing health and safety fears.

“All he did was bend down and take a photo. You could clearly see one pile that had been damaged, but it was in no way a proper assessment,” he says.

The home owner says because the house was in a livable condition, he was not especially worried at first.

He accepted a payout from IAG, whom he had insured his home with for 12 years.

The money included $12,000 to jack and pack piles as well as money for roof and external cladding repairs.

But a later assessment by an independent contractor discovered the piles all needed replacing.

“I was told it was pretty knackered and needed re-jacking and all the piles replaced.

“I’m about $100,000 out of pocket.”

He says when he went back to his insurance firm, he was told he would have to foot the additional costs himself.

“I had signed to accept the payout on the understanding they had all the information they needed to make an informed decision.

“These guys have poked their heads under the house and made a decision taken from nothing more than a photograph.

This is how they operate. Basically, I have to take them to court to get them to say yes,” he says.

He’d paid for a full inspection and report to be done by his own Structural Engineer who supplied photos of the broken piles.

“The consumer guarantee act says that work must be done with reasonable care and reasonable skill but that’s just not been the case.

“I’m just being fed lies even though the truth is in black and white. The trick is to not give up! Their tactics are to wear you down until you give up.”

A spokesperson from IAG says they further investigated the claim following feedback from the customer.

“We believe the claim is now resolved, however, we are happy to speak with the customer should they have any questions,” the spokesperson says.

“We would encourage them to get in touch with the Ombudsman for further advice.”