Heart-broken Wellington family to lose prized possessions as demolition of quake-hit home begins


A family of four are almost certain to lose their precious possessions as the deconstruction begins of condemned building 61 Molesworth Street.

The Molesworth St building is a commercial building. We caught up with people who say they've been paying $300 a week to live there.
Source: 1 NEWS

The Mape family had been living on the first floor of 61 Molesworth Street, a commercial building owned by Prime Property, since June.

They haven't been able to return to retrieve their belongings, including their passports and children's school uniforms, since the midnight earthquake.

When news broke that the nine-storey office block had been severely damaged and was at risk of collapse, authorities were unaware people were living inside, until informed by 1 News.

Now an investigation is under way to find out how many other tenants were illegally living in the office block. The building's owner hasn’t responded to 1 NEWS inquiries.

The Mape family were evacuated suddenly and could only gather a few clothes and items. The bulk of their processions are still inside the condemned building.

Wellington City Council spokesperson Richard Maclean said there is a "five to ten percent chance" the family could still salvage some of their belongings.

Demolition work is set to begin today as the building was badly damaged in the 7.8 magnitude shake and engineers say it's at imminent risk of collapse.

Fire Service Regional Commander Brendan Nally says the street will remain closed until decisions are made about the unsafe building at number 61.
Source: 1 NEWS

Special machinery is being brought in to bring the building down from the top floor.

In order to minimise the dust as it deconstructs the structure, it will constantly spray water at the building.

However, that water is likely to filter down the floors causing water damage to each level.

The process is expected to take around two weeks and Maclean says there could be a chance the family could retrieve some of their possessions as the top floors of the building are removed, however he says there are "no promises".

Olive Mape said her family is devastated by the news and says it has "ruined our life".

The family was staying in a small room at the hotel St George on Willis Street but have received a place to stay in Karori after 1 NEWS broke the story.

Emergency Welfare Manager Jenny Rain from the Wellington City Council says they are trying to do everything they can to help the Mape family.

She says the welfare centre has sourced bedding as well as a laptop for the Mape's children to complete their school work.

They have put the family in touch with various support agencies and are in conversations with the Ministry of Social Development to see what further support they can offer.

The welfare centre are planning on having a meeting with the family this afternoon to discuss the further support.

The council also wishes to extend a plea to anyone else who was living inside 61 Molesworth Street to contact the emergency welfare centre for support on 04 472 3274

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