March 2020 Newsletter

This is an urgent message to everyone who wants our Leys Institute building returned to us as a local library and community hall, after appropriate seismic upgrading.

Co-ordinator of Friends of the Leys Institute, Helen Geary, sent the message below to all members of this newly formed group, urging them to fill in an online survey seeking comments on both the Waitemata Local Board three-year plan and the Auckland Council annual budget. The message must be: Save the Leys Institute. The SMBA wants to help spread this message to a wider audience: hence this e-mail to all our members.

As you know, the Leys Institute was shut down abruptly just before Christmas, citing seismic risks. The St Mary’s Bay Association fully supports the work of the Friends of the Leys Institute. In addition, we are seeking to have the various reports on the building’s stability reviewed by an independent seismologist.

The Waitemata Local Board is expected to make a decision in June on the future of the Leys Institute. However, the funding for an upgrade of this Category 1 heritage building (the same category as the Town Hall) must come from the Auckland Council budget.

We urge you to read the “how to do it” message (below) from the Friends of the Leys Institute and convey your views to our local board and council. Unfortunately, time is critical. We must fill in the online form by Sunday, March 22. It would be so helpful if you could take the time to do this survey. Council must report on all the feedback offered, and does pay attention to the numbers of comments.

WE will provide a further update in our upcoming St Mary’s Bay Association newsletter.

David Abbott,
St Mary’s Bay Association Inc.

From: Friends of Leys Institute:

As well as Having Your Say on the new 3 year Waitemata Local Board Plan, Aucklanders can also comment on the whole of council Annual Budget.
There is a simple online survey, which allows space for any general comments – a perfect opportunity to advocate for council funds for the seismic strengthening of the Leys Institute.

It should only take a few minutes – here are the steps to follow:

1. Bring up this link from the council website –

2. Press Start at the bottom of the page.

3. All questions are optional, so you can scroll down to Q.4 Local Board priorities.

4. Click Waitemata Local Board.

5. You can read the online information if you want and tick one of the 4 boxes there. Under the Box headed Tell Us Why: you can write something about the Leys Institute along these lines:
The Waitemata Local Board states that one of its roles is “caring for the environment and preserving heritage”. So it is appropriate that some statement regarding the Leys Institute should be included in the 3 year plan for 2020-2022.
While the Local Board has indicated its support for the seismic strengthening of the Leys Institute buildings, it does not have access to sufficient funding to carry out strengthening and must rely on the council’s governing body.
However, writing this into the Local Board Plan will show the community that the Local Board is advocating for the strong desire for these buildings to be strengthened and returned to use as much loved community facilities over the last 115 years.

6. Q.5 Other Feedback – what is important for you? Here you can state what you would like Auckland Council to do in this year’s annual plan, similar to this:

The Leys Institute buildings were gifted to the council decades ago, with properties and funds attached for the maintenance of the buildings. These funds have been available to council for many years and now it is time to return those resources for the seismic strengthening of the library and gymnasium.
These heritage buildings are listed Category 1 by Heritage New Zealand (meaning they are of national significance – the same status as the Town Hall), and Category A by Auckland Council.
A Conservation Plan was done in 2000, and since then there have been multiple reports and recommendations on the state of the buildings, the most recent in 2017, advising simple steps to make the buildings safer.
None of these have yet been implemented.
It’s time for the Auckland Council to allocate a budget towards seismic strengthening of the Leys Institute, so these much loved facilities operating for 115 years, can be safely returned to the community.

7. Click Next and fill in some personal details and contacts – most of this is optional, only name, address and email are required. Remember to click Finish at the end.

It would be so helpful if you could take the time to do this survey. Council must report on all the feedback offered, and does pay attention to the numbers of comments.

The survey does finish on this Sunday 22 March.

Thanks for your attention and for your support for the Leys Institute.
Kind regards

Helen Geary
Friends of Leys Institute co-ordinator
09 376 9411, 021 208 7490