No Penalty for Tavern Collapse


No one is going to prosecuted over the collapse of the heritage Palace Hotel in Victoria St.

The Auckland Council says its legal team has been working with the Auckland Crown Solicitor and other technical and legal advisers to examine all of the evidence and technical information obtained from its investigations into the cause of the collapse of the Palace Hotel.

It has “considered what avenues of prosecution may be available to hold anyone accountable for the tragic loss of one of Auckland’s most iconic heritage buildings.”
General Counsel Wendy Brandon says the advice Auckland Council has received is that “there is not sufficient evidence as to the specific cause of the collapse to provide a reasonable prospect of a successful criminal or regulatory prosecution.”

All that was left

An Auckland Council commissioned report into the collapse of the old Aurora Hotel opposte Sky City poineds the finger at the Wellington owners’ renovations. Prosecution was then being considered and the council talked of compensation.

Those owners, the Chow Group, bought the building for over $3m and were turning the heritage hotel into a brothel in time for the RWC 2011 when the building started moving and the council ordered its demolition for safety reasons. The Wellington owners complained bitterly about the demolition saying it wasn’t needed nor approved by them.

The official investigation report by the Council said:
“Our investigation indicates that the stability of the basement retaining wall does not appear to have been adequately addressed in the building design calculations submitted for the most recent building consent. The extent to which the owner’s site engineers and architect should have recognised that they were placing the building at risk by not replacing sufficient lateral support as the works progressed to compensate for structural elements they were removing are matters for review.”

The heritage tavern being demolished

The Council is now separately considering if the Palace Hotel’s collapse, which occurred during a significant renovation project, should be referred to any professional bodies for further enquiry.





  1. Anthony Blomfield says:

    Get rid of all

    disgusting whore shops also.

  2. Andrew Miller says:

    really, was that an “iconic” heritage building? Thought it was an Auckland pub of which several other examples still exist…never mind, lucky there are few earthquakes in Akl…as opposed to here…

  3. greenwelly says:

    the stability of the basement retaining wall does not appear to have been adequately addressed in the building design calculations submitted for the most recent building consent.

    A Building consent that presumably was signed off by council - ( otherwise why had work commenced) hence the lack of desire to turn this into a ilegal mud wrestle

  4. KarlHansen says:

    Contrary to an earthquake, this collapse clearly DID have a culprit. I can’t see how they can just let this go. The new Council is starting to rack up a list of heritage protection failures.

    Not all of which are their fault - can’t stop some processes when you only come in at the tail end with your new political mandate. But they better shape up and act, or they will be known for being ineffectual on that count.

  5. DanC says:

    So what will the area become? A green space? Another cute character building? A glass & concrete box?

  6. Jon C says:

    @DanC No they still own it so want to build their Penthouse club there.

  7. Nick says:

    So if you want to take out a heritage building, you can without repurcussions. There can’t be many 1880s buildings in central Auckland left… These chow brothers are just bad news, they got fined for effectively killing a protected tree on one of their Wellington properties too. You can bet the new building will be cheap and won’t be able to replace the old one in terms of history or architecture.

  8. Matt says:

    greenwelly, if you’ve read some of the other commentary on here about this incident, you’ll find suggestions that the work being carried out didn’t comply with the information provided in the consent. Specifically there was talk of critical inner lateral support having been removed.


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