Victory Shed Demolition – December 2021

Published on December 01, 2021

The asbestos at the Victory Shed roof was removed by local company Action Drainage, sub-contractors to Jurgens, during September and October and the area received WorkSafe clearance before demolition continued. The roof was carefully removed manually, one sheet at a time, as the wharf could not carry the weight of any machinery. After manual removal each asbestos sheet was wrapped for safe transit and then taken for disposal at Bonny Glen Landfill.

An issue with the underfloor area of the shed itself contributed to the decision to demolish the shed as part of Te Pūwaha port revitalisation project. It’s important that any subfloor can safely bear the weight placed on it. At the Victory Shed, the scouring under the concrete slab floor has over time eroded three quarters of the land beneath the shed’s surface area. This meant the shed no longer has any weight bearing capacity and is therefore considered too dangerous to use.

As part of Te Pūwaha work to rebuild and revitalise the port, demolition materials will be salvaged, safely stored and considered by project partners, including iwi, for future reuse where possible, in alignment with mouri ora, mouri tangata, mouri awa.

At the Victory Shed site, concrete walls will be broken down and the concrete crushed for reuse as part of the site rehabilitation throughout the project. This has some environmental benefits as it reduces the amount of material going to landfill. Where possible aspects of the building that reflect its history will also be salvaged. This includes the barn-style doors and runners, and if possible the name of the shed, which sits in plaster on the side of the building. Not all the demolition materials from the Victory Shed can be reused. The asbestos roof has been disposed of and the metal frame under the roof has deteriorated over time and will also be disposed of. 

An archaeologist has worked with Te Pūwaha project partners Whanganui District Council and Te Mata Pūau (hapū collective representatives) to examine the site and prepare a full archaeological report. Although the area is a pre-1900 site, there have been no archaeological finds at the Victory shed site to date. The Victory shed itself has had a rich history. Before demolition began a photographic record was created to preserve the Victory shed’s iconic contribution to Whanganui’s local history.

The whole area of the wharves and the land behind the wharves is considered to be very dangerous. The wharves are not safe for more than pedestrian traffic and this means that access to the area from land or sea is not currently safe.

There are warning signs at the wharves and the demolition site advising people not to access the wharves, not to attempt to enter the construction site, and not to swim in the area also as this can be very dangerous. 

At the Victory Shed site, Te Pūwaha project partners Whanganui District Council and members of Te Mata Pūau are working closely with site contractors, including local demolition company Jurgens, to keep everyone on site safe. This includes inspecting the site each day for any new hazards before work begins.

Hazards include sink holes appearing weekly at the site, and the weight-bearing ability of the land. Each time work is undertaken at the site using machinery, of any weight, the land the machinery will operate on needs to be remediated or bolstered so that is safe to work on. 

The Victory shed demolition is currently on track to be completed by Christmas. The area that is being cleared at the site will receive full land remediation so that it can house future tenanted buildings and facilities within the new Marine precinct being developed by Q-West as part of Te Pūwaha port revitalisation. 

Even more significant than the specific work being done, is the way in which project partners are working together. Project partners Whanganui District Council and Te Mata Pūau manage contractors together and in accordance with Tupua te Kawa - the set of values drawn from Te Awa Tupua. These guide all decision making in respect of the Whanganui River and ensure the wellbeing of the river is central to the work.

On site this way of working sees experienced local demolition company Jurgens, the main contractor for the demolition of the shed, working under a collaborative project partner model. They regularly meet with and report to the council and representatives from Te Mata Pūau. It’s anticipated that over time working in this exemplary way help ensure a safe demolition for the workers and the public, and contribute to local contractors building their own knowledge of working within the Te Awa Tupua framework. 

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