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Oamaru’s stunning court house back in session after seven years, and project comes in under budget

Court is finally back in session for an Oamaru court house, reopening after it closed in 2011 for earthquake strengthening.

The court house reopened yesterday and this one came in under a fifth of the original estimate.

The mayor of Oamaru Gary Kircher told 1 NEWS the initial budget was "pretty outrageous."

That amount was said to be around $5m.

Lawyer Bill Dean challenged the amount and hired a heritage company to review it.

“He came back and said look $300,000 will bring it up, $350,000 at the outside, that’s a big difference."

"Understandably safety, in terms of earthquake strengthening is an important aspect of any building administration, but I believe there was an agenda to close the court none the less," Oamaru lawyer Philip Hope said.

“It’s right in the middle of town, the centre of a thriving historic town, the ministry I suspect would have quite happily let it go to wreck and ruin, perhaps give it away so it could become a craft shop or something."

Built in 1883, the court house has a rich history, operating as a supreme court until 1931.

It is home to several famous trials.

“If you’re arrested by police, the idea is you go to your nearest courthouse, travelling an hour or more away to get justice dispensed is not right," Justice Minister Andrew Little said.

For those that work at the court house, that first trial can't come soon enough.

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It’s a day many North Otago locals thought might never come, with high costs originally predicted for the project. Source: 1 NEWS