Dunedin court to undergo $20 million restoration

Dunedin court to undergo $20 million restoration

The Dunedin courthouse where David Bain first appeared in the 1990s - one of seven courts closed in 2011 due to earthquake risk - is to be restored at a cost of $20 million.

It's a historic building Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams describes as one of the most notable in New Zealand.

Abandoned in recent years due to earthquake concerns, she says the goal was always to bring the 114-year-old courthouse back to life.

"I have a view that when you are the owner of a building of this sort of heritage importance, that comes with obligations and responsibilities," Ms Adams said.

Parts of the historic court were first closed in 2011, with hearings moving to temporary premises - but as the estimated cost of the project increased, the legal fraternity joined a fight to ensure the building was saved.

"The heritage - this type of building has much more gravitas for what we're doing in here," NZ Law Society branch manager Debbie Ericsson said.

Located opposite the city's railway station, it's been home to many high profile cases.

David Bain walked this path during his first trial in 1995, and the High Court was also used for Clayton Weatherston's depositions hearing.

Along with seismic strengthening, the $20 million project will include major upgrades to the court's security and technology, along with extensive restoration work

"Everything's being fully preserved. And in fact we're enhancing it with the addition of historic things that have been removed over the years," Amalgamated Builders project manager Paul Meehan said.

Work on the building is due to start in a few weeks, with the hope of returning court services to Dunedin's home of justice by early 2018.