Annual Report for period to 31 March 2017

I have pleasure in presenting the Annual Report and Financial Accounts for the year to 31 March 2017, This has been a very eventful year for the Trust in several key areas, and also one of sadness:-

  • We launched Stage 1 of the Prison restoration project in September 2016. Valued at around $600,000, the work programme was successfully completed in May 2017.
  • In an effort to introduce ‘new blood’ to the Trust, a search for more Trustees was instituted. This resulted in four new appointments to the Board, and the addition of a new Advisory Committee member.
  • The Trust’s founding Chairman, Stewart Harvey, resigned because of health issues and was honoured with a Life Membership in recognition of his services to the Trust. Sadly, Stewart passed away in May 2017.

Restoration Stage 1

This major undertaking for the Trust has seen the Castle Street façade of the Prison restored very largely to the original concept of its architect, JJ Campbell. The reinstatement of many decorative features which were removed over the years has enhanced the appearance of the building so the old Prison once again makes an important contribution to the streetscape of the central Dunedin heritage precinct.

Following more than a year of raising funds toward Stage 1 of the old Prison restoration, contracts for the commencement of works on the main administration block were signed and work commenced on-site in September 2016. The complex work included creating new carved architectural features from aerated concrete, rather than stone and also involved the replacement of around 15000, grey welsh roof slates. Repair of turrets and the unusually designed fleche, and seismic strengthening. Funding and opportunity aligned to allow some work to be done on the north Annex to the Prison, which was not included as part of the original Stage 1 project.

Despite weather delays the work was completed in May 2016 with the finishing touch, the installation of two 1.4m high fibreglass crafted finials achieved on 9 June. Genuine thanks must go to our heritage consultant Guy Williams for his dogged commitment to getting the right and best outcome from all contractors on the project. As Project Manager, Guy was very effective, and the successful completion of Stage 1 is due in no small measure to his efforts.


We could not have undertaken Stage 1 of the restoration without the support of many community trusts and grant providers, the NZ Lottery Grants Board, Dunedin Heritage Fund and several private benefactors. We are most grateful for the grants received from the following:-


A large number of tradespeople were engaged in the Stage 1 Restoration project. The contractors have performed to the Trust’s complete satisfaction, under the capable oversight of Project Manager Guy Williams.

Major contractors were:-


Regular revenue is important for us to be able to pay the ongoing maintenance and operating costs of this very large building. We have continuing revenue from three sources:-
  • Renting of car parking spaces around the building. This income was disrupted this year, as it was necessary to provide alternative parking for our tenants while the restoration project was in progress. Now that Stage 1 is complete this income source will resume, at least in the short term.
  • Public guided tours of the prison were offered in the warmer months at $10 per head. This revenue source has also suffered this year, as it was necessary to suspend tours while the restoration was in progress. It is intended that tours will resume in the spring of this year.
  • We have the Prison’s first commercial tenant in Escape Dunedin Ltd, which has made a significant investment in establishing its area of operation, and now offers two escape games at the old Prison. The Trust receives rent payments and a commission on turnover. Escape Dunedin has confirmed it will take up the available two-year renewal of its lease, through to 30 June 2019.

  • In addition to these regular sources of income, we received some “one-off” income from Fear NZ, which operated “Horror Story at the Prison” as a fund-raising venture for Heart Kids Otago over three weekends in May. Fear NZ paid a Venue Hire fee to the Trust for the use of the Prison, and have expressed interest in using the Prison again next year.

    We thought that we had secured a tenant for the Prison’s commercial kitchen, but shortly before the lease was finalised the prospective tenant withdrew for health reasons. We are pursuing other avenues to secure a possible tenant.

    Stewart Harvey

    In June 2016 the Trust’s Foundation Chairman retired for health reasons. The success of the Trust in its acquisition and guardianship of the historic former Dunedin Prison is largely due to the vision, dedication and service of Stewart Harvey. In recognition of this, Stewart was made the first (and so far, only) Life Member of the Trust. To mark this honour, Stewart was presented with a handsome wall plaque made from one of the replaced Welsh roof slates removed from the Prison as part of its restoration.

    Sadly, Stewart passed away in May 2017, soon after completion of Stage 1 of the restoration project. One major challenge yet to be faced is the preparation of an Interpretation Plan which will document what we intend for the building interior, and which must be approved by Heritage New Zealand.


    Following the retirement of Stewart Harvey and resignation of Trustees Hamish Saxton and Paul Pedofski early in the year, Frank Robertson accepted appointment as a Trustee, which maintained the number required by the Deed of Trust.

    In December 2016 a ‘recruitment drive’ for new Trustees was undertaken by advertising on the Institute of Directors website. This attracted a number of very well qualified enquiries, as a result of which we appointed four new Trustees, who bring valuable diversity of background and experience to the Trust. New Trustees are Amanda Jane Brosnan, Kate Hesson, Barry Timmings and Virginia Nicholls, who join Barry Clarke, Lindsay Hall, Peter Hutchison, Frank Robertson and myself on the Board.


    The Dunedin Prison Charitable Trust could not operate without the tremendous support of all those who give their time and energy and interest for the benefit of the old Prison building, and who share the desire to see the property brought back into a useful purpose yet again. Some do not attend our meetings but nevertheless provide invaluable inputs for prison tours, cleaning work, and maintenance. These people are all volunteers, some since the inception of the Trust, and I cannot thank each and every person enough. Some have been involved since the inception of the Trust, possible even before.

    Specific thanks are recorded to our Tour Guides; Gordon Broome, Kevin Booth and Peter Caswell and to Peter Croy our ‘on-call’ maintenance person. And, heartfelt thanks to Peter Caswell, who as Facilities Manager is often a first point of contact for enquiries and he looks after all matters to do with the building. The Trust’s Advisory Committee are also non-Trustee volunteers who have provided valuable support and assistance throughout year, for which the Board is very appreciative.

    Finally, my fellow Trustees. We have come a long way in a year of restoration, yet we still have further to go. The chance to plot the direction we will take for the old Dunedin Prison should be seen as a positive challenge. We have also generated a lot of credibility within the funding community and the Dunedin community at large. This can only stand us in good stead as we plot that path ahead. Thank you for your involvement and valued guidance throughout the last year.

    Owen Graham
    26 June 2017