Justice precinct open day a hit
Thousands of people queued for up to an hour to see inside Christchurch’s new $300 million justice and emergency services precinct yesterday.
One queue, to see the police watchhouse and cells, snaked up and down both sides of Lichfield St between Colombo and Durham St.
A man who was looking at the queue said ‘‘you have got to be kidding’’, before walking away, but many others decided the wait was worth it.
There was a carnival atmosphere at the open day, which attracted about 14,000 people over five hours. Bands were playing and people got to test out riot squad gear, pat a police dog and sit in a police van and car.
Christchurch residents June and Ray Stanbury, who had queued for about an hour, said they wanted to see the building because it was somewhere they would not get to see again.
‘‘People won’t see this in the future unless they are locked up,’’ Ray Stanbury said.
The 42,000-square-metre precinct, which is made up of three buildings, will house the Ministry of Justice, Police, Department of Corrections, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, St John and Civil Defence.
The Ministry of Justice was expected to start operating from the building about mid-October and agencies would now start fitting out their offices before progressively moving in.
The buildings, which have been repeatedly delayed, were officially opened on Tuesday.
The open day was a chance for people to look inside before it is fitted out.
Denis Puha, who had just finished checking out the courtrooms, said he was impressed with the buildings’ architecture and the quality of the fixtures and fittings, which included native timbers and copper balustrades.
Ministry of Justice chief executive Andrew Bridgman said he expected there to be a lot of interest in the precinct, but more people than anticipated had shown up.
People wait in line to see what is inside Christchurch’s new justice and emergency services precinct during yesterday’s public open day. The central-city precinct is made up of three buildings and will soon house the law courts and emergency services, among others.
People of all ages visited the precinct yesterday.