Leys Institute closed after earthquake fears

Following the completion of a seismic assessment, which found structural issues that make the buildings unsafe, the Leys Institute was closed by Auckland Council abruptly on 20 December 2019.

On 26 February 2020 more than 150 banner-carrying protesters gathered outside the Leys Institute and called on Waitemata Local Board chair Richard Northey to champion the residents’ desire to return the closed library to its former use, after appropriate seismic upgrading.

The Leys Institute and Gymnasium, founded by William Leys and his brother Thomson, was opened in 1905. Conditions relating to the building were expressed in a deed of trust. In 1964 control of this Edwardian Baroque building was transferred to Auckland City Council and subsequently this category 1 heritage building has fallen below acceptable seismic standards.

The newly formed Friends of the Leys Institute, the St Mary’s Bay Association, the Freemans Bay Residents Association and other community groups and individuals all expressed their views in submissions in March to the Waitemata Local Board three-year plan and the Auckland Council annual budget.

We must keep that momentum going! We all want this historic building returned to us as a local library and general community facility, after upgrading to meet earthquake standards.

The St Mary’s Bay Association is currently working with the Friends of the Leys Institute to have the various reports on the building’s stability reviewed by an independent seismologist.

At its June business meeting the Waitemata Local Board will consider various council reports on how best to restore the building for public use. We will be asking the Local Board to provide for public consultation at this point. Any decision by the local board requires approval by Auckland Council, which controls the budget.

How can you help in the fight to save this historic building?

  • Join the Friends of the Leys Institute. Contact institute co-ordinator Helen Geary heleng@maxnet.co.nz