Ngawha Spa future uncertain

Contractors employed to assess the degree of work involved to renovate the Top Energy Ngawha Spa have found significant amounts of asbestos on the site. New owner Top Energy was notified on Wednesday last week (16 September) and has since taken steps to secure the site, including closing the camping ground and the spa.

Far North lines network operator and electricity generator Top Energy bought the Ngawha Spa as part of a land deal to facilitate the expansion of the Ngawha geothermal power station. It closed the site to visitors two weeks after the July acquisition in order to assess the work required to upgrade the facility.

The company was not able to operate the spa in its current condition and had hoped that remedial works and the necessary consents could be completed quickly to enable a swift re-opening.

Due diligence undertaken before the sale indicated the likelihood that a manageable amount of asbestos had been used in the construction of the spa facilities. But expert advice received during the upgrade assessment process indicated that the material was more widely used across the site than had been anticipated.

“The expert advice we received last week is that no-one can safely be on the site,” Mr Shaw said.

Other issues identified by the upgrade assessment included derelict and hazardous buildings, and unsafe walkways and grounds.

Mr Shaw described the development as “deeply saddening”.

“This is a place of significant historic and cultural importance. It’s precious to the local community and we really wanted to make something special of it and to bring it up to the standard of other attractions in the region.

“From the outset there were significant issues arising from the condition of this site and its facilities. Now, with the extent of the asbestos, the expert advice we’ve received is that we have no option but to make the site safe,” he said.

“I understand that people will have many questions. At this point we don’t have all the answers – we’re still digesting the reports we’ve been given and considering our options on eventual re-opening. The important thing was to let the community know about the issues as quickly as possible. We’ll certainly keep people informed as we embark on the decision-making process.”

Top Energy is notifying staff and contractors who have been on site since it acquired the Ngawha Spa complex that they may have been exposed to asbestos.

SUBS: The Ngawha Spa baths are situated next to the Waiariki Hot Springs. This news release relates to developments at the Top Energy-owned Ngawha Spa complex and not the Waiariki Hot Springs administered and operated by the Parahirahi C1 Trust. Please ensure that this differentiation is made clear in any stories published.

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