Annual Report for period to 31 March 2013

I have pleasure in presenting the Annual Report and Financial Accounts for the year to 31 March 2013, which has been a challenging period for our fledgling organisation.


In 2011, based on the vision of the original founders of the trust, a feasibility study was prepared by David Booth (OCTA Associates) and Stewart Harvey. This was funded by Lotteries to the amount of $10,000 and OCTA kindly agreed to fund the balance required to enable it to be completed adequately. This feasibility study gave the trustees enough confidence to endorse its vision and trustees gave authority to move to purchase the prison.

Negotiations with the Department of Corrections to purchase the old Dunedin Prison began in 2011 and were successfully concluded in June 2012, and $29,500 was paid to Ngai Tahu Properties.

Funding for the purchase, and holding costs for 12 months, was obtained from:
  • Southern Trust
  • DCC Heritage Fund
  • Stuart McKinlay
  • Otago Community Trust


Our first priority was to establish an income stream to cover future expenses and fund a Conservation Plan. By October 31, 2012 all 23 car parking spaces had been let at market rentals.

Donations – by allowing access to two film companies for documentaries they were producing, we raised $750. We sold the surplus stand-by generator for $7250 incl GST in November 2012, although it has not yet been uplifted by the buyer.

Tours – began on 13 October 2012 for the month of October and then resumed in March 2013 and ran for March and April. We also ran tours for four groups over this period. To 31 March 2013 takings amounted to $4,155, and to 30 April 2013 a further $1,450, a total of $5,605. With the only direct expenses of $347, the net result, $5,258, made a very useful contribution to our cash flow. Thanks must be expressed to our tour guides Ken Burt, John Thomson and Peter Caswell.


The ownership of a large vacant prison building then began to raise all sorts of issues which needed addressing. I have been ably assisted by Peter Caswell who was appointed Facilities Manager early on, and has done an excellent job in taking the weight off my shoulders.

Key control – with some 120 rooms, and restriction of access having been such a priority in the past, we had a big job getting all doors opened for inspection.

Power supply – a new contract was entered into with Contact Energy to provide power at a reasonable usage cost and low fixed charges.

Electrical – when we took over it, while all wall plugs were checked and found to be working, it was a nightmare trying to find which lights were operated by which switches. This was complicated by there being some fittings which did not work.

Water tightness – we were pleased to verify that the roof and gutters had been maintained in a satisfactory condition and provided a watertight building. Some cleaning of gutters and downpipes was carried out by the volunteers.

Plumbing – very little lower level water and drainage fixing was needed.

Fire safety – while we realised that there was very little chance of a fire we decided to reactivate the existing alarm systems, consisting of fire detectors and water pressure detectors. This was a mistake as the old systems needed some repairs work to obtain reliability. In the meantime while we wrestled with these problems the Fire Service were called out automatically and we copped a bill each time for $1,000 plus GST. At balance date there is still ‘outstanding’ $5,750 plus GST. There is provision for the NZFS to waive these charges if they are assured that we are addressing the false alarm issues, and we are working down that track with them and our fire engineers.

Cleaning was an early priority as the place was very dirty in a number of areas. Besides normal dust and detritus there had been pigeons nesting inside the building in a number of places and removal of their dirt was a major task, carried out by volunteers.

General Maintenance of the property has not been a problem, the only costs being to establish the car park, moss-kill various outdoor areas, and have additional keys cut as needed.


Insurance – it was elected to insure the building through Marsh against Material Damage loss for $1m, total premium being $8371 excl GST. Insurances are due for renewal in May and Marsh are working on that.

Rates – On application the Dunedin City Council granted rates relief for three years of 50% in the amount of $5,15.0 8 excl GST, based on the amount of the general rate of $11, 844.58 (the full rates bill being $17,092.39 excl GST). The rates assessment is based on QV’s assessment of the value of our property and in November 2012 we had Barlow Justice lodge a request for a lower value assessment, but we are yet to hear the putcome.

However the Otago Regional Council refused a similar application for rates relief.


ODT Photography – early on Stephen Jaquiery, ODT Illustrations Editor, agreed to capture and archive a full suite of images both inside the prison and its exterior. This was completed in April 2013.


Thanks to our benefactors, my fellow trustees for their wise counsel, and the following businesses who have provided pro bono work or goods:
  • Gallaway Cook Allan for legal advice.
  • OCTA Associates' David Booth for professional advice.
  • Laurie Forbes of Zeal Steel for repair work.
  • Chubb for advice and help on locks and key control.
  • Bunnings' Staff for cleaning work.
  • Stephen McKnight for engineering services.
  • Steve Flanders for Quantity Surveying services.
  • Otago Cleaning Supplies for donation of a commercial vacuum cleaner.
  • Wet & Forget for moss killer.
  • Allied Press and Stephen Jaquiery for photography services.

Volunteers & Friends

Volunteers - we have been extremely well-served by Peter Caswell and his band of volunteers, most of whom come from the Probus Club of Andersons Bay. They have done all the ‘dirty’ stuff.

Friends Group – our website calls for expressions of interest in becoming a volunteer for the trust and these details have now been captured on a database, which will give us ease of access for newsletters etc.


Website – a simple website was set up by Sarah Girvan’s office and has been a great shop front for our activities and vision. Prison Tours are booked and confirmed seamlessly through this site.

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

We acknowledge the assistance of the NZHPT from the earliest days of our involvement in the negotiation and purchasing of the prison. The Heritage Covenant they placed on the property before our purchase has given us confidence that we will be able to work closely with them to achieve our vision.

The on-going support and expertise of the Otago Office has been valuable both to ourselves and to our Conservation Plan consultants. Having this good relationship is a quality assurance factor for all we undertake.


1. Conservation Plan – In October 2012 we called tenders for the preparation of a Conservation Plan to inform the way forward in the prison’s redevelopment. The tender of Musecape Pty of Sydney was accepted, and Chris and Margaret Betteridge began work in Dunedin on 16 November 2012. Their investigation have proved difficult in the area of archive research as there is dearth of records in Dunedin and much delay has been experienced working long-distance with Archives NZ in Wellington.

2. We now await the completion of the Conservation Plan, and then the trustees and our advisers will have some hard decisions to make to convert our ‘vision’ into reality, decide on the way forward, prepare specifications, call for tenders, raise the finance required, let a contract (probably in stages) and control all of this as we proceed.

Stewart Harvey
14 May 2013