Kāpiti Councillors Visit The Unique 105-year-old Rotunda at Otaki

Kāpiti Coast councillors have toured of one of Aotearoa’s unique buildings, the heritage – listed Rotunda at the former Otaki Health Camp, the country’s first.

Jeremy Smith reports that the 105-year-old, eight-sided rotunda predates the Health Camp.

It wasn’t actually built in Otaki, but was one of two built in Rotorua in 1915 as part of a military hospital, on the site of Rotorua’s present public hospital. 

Buildings moved to Otaki from Rotorua

Later they were taken to Otaki for the opening of the health camp in 1931. 

Although only one rotunda remains, in deteriorating condition , Alison Dangerfield of Heritage New Zealand says the building is ‘of outstanding heritage significance.’

Rotunda interior before clean-up

The building and the grounds have Heritage NZ’s highest listing,  Category One.

The Health Camp closed on 2018 and the site is now administered by the Department of  Conservation which is looking for a new owner.

Friends of the Rotunda host visit

This week the Friends of the Otaki Rotunda Trust hosted elected representatives at the site.  KCDC planning staff had already been through.

They included Otaki community board chair Chris Papps, who is also a Trust member, Otaki ward councillor James Cootes, district councillors Glyn Compton, Martin Haliday and Jackie Elliott, and Otaki community board member Shelly Warwick.

Mayor Gurunathan attended some of the briefing, which was led by Trust chair and Otaki beach resident, Di Buchan.

 Few had ever been in the building before.

Beautiful natural lighting

 The trust is now waiting for a detailed financial assessment, commissioned by DOC  of how much it will cost to restore the rotunda, which once slept up to 60 children.

Di Buchan says the cost will be high and they will be looking for sources of money.

They’ve already started tours of the site. Ms Buchan is also the editor of the history of the camp- Sun, Sea and Sustenance- the story of the Otaki Health camp, published in 2017.

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