St Paul’s Catholic Church in Ngaruawahia has been closed after a detailed seismic assessment put the building’s structural performance score at only 14 per cent of the New Building Standard.

Hamilton Bishop Stephen Lowe said this score is far below the threshold set out by the building code, which is 34 per cent. In its current state, the church is considered
extremely high risk in the event of an earthquake.

“The parishioners, at this stage, are looking at some original plans which are offering new information which they didn’t have for the DSA (detailed seismic assessment). It’s up to the parish to decide what they’d like to do,” the bishop said.

While the more-than-100-year-old church remains closed, Masses are being celebrated for the community at the parish hall.

Bishop Lowe said it is the second church in Hamilton diocese to be closed for reasons of safety. St Patrick’s church in Te Puke received a similar rating. Masses in that area are currently being celebrated at the local Anglican church.

The bishop said all churches in the diocese are undergoing seismic assessments at the moment. He said he is waiting for the reports to come back. These will be peer reviewed by an independent engineer, on behalf of the diocese.

“We are looking long-term,” the bishop said. “We want buildings to be up to 67 per cent of the code. But that’s going to be aspirational at this stage. It’s going to be a journey towards that.”

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