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New Plymouth eyesores are slowly being dismantled

With six floors, state highways on either side, and bird poop running down your boots, New Plymouth’s Education House is no easy task to beat.

For years the building sat like a pimple on the city’s face on the corner of Elliot and Courtenay streets. Many welcomed the news when local Iwi Te Atiawa announced that it would demolish an unsightly earthquake-prone building.

Demolition started from the top down. The first was to remove a large white box from the top, dubbed a “bird’s nest” by the team at Nikau Contractors because there was a puddle of bird droppings on the floor nearly knee-deep. .

About four tons of guano was removed, bagged and taken to Hampton Downs where it was treated similarly to asbestos.

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That’s when the “soft demolition” began. About a dozen workers used special crowbars, chainsaws and other tools to remove timber, carpet, stairs, plumbing and fittings.

Everything that still has value, from coat racks to toilets, is sent to the building’s recycler, where it is sold on the second-hand market.

Weather permitting, the project should be finished around mid-November.

Andy Macdonald/staff

Weather permitting, the project should be finished around mid-November.

During the soft demolition stage, concrete parts are also removed and split into concrete and steel. The steel is recycled and the concrete is crushed and used as hardfill or roads.

“Concrete powder is included, so it’s the best because it hardens when water passes through it.”

English says she’s very focused on keeping things out of landfills.

Once the “bird’s nest”, stairs and roof have been removed, the crew attaches a large crane to a section of concrete and holds it in place while cutting the concrete into pieces before lowering it to the ground.

All sorts of James Bond-like gadgets are used, such as wire saws with diamond ropes and remote-controlled diggers.

Once the site has been cut down to three stories, excavators are used to demolish the remaining levels, working with large wires and plastic cages suspended from the crane to keep debris from falling off the site. .

Harrison started working for the company at the age of 17. He was on his way to a rodeo when his car broke down.

Andy Macdonald/staff

Harrison started working for the company at the age of 17. He was on his way to a rodeo when his car broke down.

With the right weather, the hard demolition can be completed in just a week and will require about four people instead of the 12 currently on site.

Wi Harrison, operations manager at Nikau Contractors, says that in many ways, tearing down such a building is just as difficult as building it.

But his team enjoys the challenge.

“The unique thing about this is that you are not doing the same thing every day and you have room to grow.

“We get a lot of boys.

Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa are currently considering several development options for the site.

Andy Macdonald/staff

Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa are currently considering several development options for the site.

Nikau Contractors is Maori owned and wānau focused.

Team members help out during college holidays, but Harrison says they often enjoy the demolition and don’t want to go back.

“We had a PT trainer, one time a schoolteacher, a helicopter engineer and just wanted to keep going.”

Although it irritates him, Harrison said his start at the company began in much the same way.

“My sister who owns a company called me and said she didn’t have money to help me so she asked me to come and work for me for a few months. I’m 17 and I’m 52 now. .

All sorts of James Bond-sounding gadgets are used, including wire saws with diamond ropes and remote-controlled diggers.

Andy Macdonald/staff

All sorts of James Bond-sounding gadgets are used, including wire saws with diamond ropes and remote-controlled diggers.

Harrison said there has been a lot of public interest in the demolition they do, including many “experts” who have never done a demolition before.

“They look at it and say why didn’t they blow it up?

“The networking to do it all is so complex that it’s easier just to pull it down. If you can blow it up, we’ll do it!”

Nikau isn’t the only project Mahi is contributing to.

Chantelle Ngaia, a prestigious Taranaki LTD Director, provided round-the-clock traffic management for the project.

Andy Macdonald/staff

Chantelle Ngaia, a prestigious Taranaki LTD Director, provided round-the-clock traffic management for the project.

Everything that still has value, from coat racks to toilets, is sent to the building's recycler, where it is sold on the second-hand market.

Andy Macdonald/staff

Everything that still has value, from coat racks to toilets, is sent to the building’s recycler, where it is sold on the second-hand market.

Taranaki Director Chantelle Ngaia is in charge of traffic management for the project around the clock.

“It’s been really nice to have Te Kotahitanga O Te Atiawa backing us up with a lot of the work, as well as the support of the local community,” she said.

“We’re facing the public, so we get a lot of questions about what’s going on.”

Derek Stevens, senior project manager at Egmont Dixon, said the project could be finished around mid-November, weather permitting.

From there the site has been wiped out and Te Kotahitanga o Te Ātiawa are currently considering many development options.

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