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New Board and Code of Ethical Conduct established

Embargoed until 10.00am Friday 30 June 2006

New Board and Code of Ethical Conduct established for Architects

A new Act governing architects comes into effect on Saturday 1 July. The Registered Architects Act 2005 establishes a new board, the New Zealand Architects Board (NZRAB), a Register of Architects, and enhanced consumer protection with a new Code of Ethical Conduct.

Ron Pynenburg, chair of the NZRAB, said: “The new Act requires architects to adhere to a minimum standard of ethical conduct and to maintain professional competence throughout their practicing careers.”

The Act also gives the board new powers, enabling it to impose fines of up to $10,000, require registered architects to undergo supervision or training, or suspend or cancel a person’s registration.

“The vast majority of architects already work in a professional and ethical way, but the Act formalises the high standards in the profession by setting a benchmark and provides much better public protection. It will allow the public to distinguish architects who have met the high standards of registration from others.

“The implementation of the Act will help more clearly define the role of architects and create a greater understanding of the work they undertake.

“In recent times a great number of practitioners in the area of design have referred to themselves as ‘architects’. The new Act clearly states that people who design buildings, or who supervise the construction of buildings may not use the title ‘architect’ unless they are a ‘registered architect’,” Mr Pynenburg said.

Under the new Act, people can make complaints about the conduct of a registered architect based on breaches of the standards of ethical conduct, incompetence or negligence. Under the old system complaints could only be brought on the grounds of gross negligence or gross incompetence.

“Using a registered architect means consumers know there has been an ongoing review of the professional competency of the architect they are using and greater, defined consumer protection if something goes wrong.

“The new Act and its provisions are a good thing for consumers and architects alike and has been widely welcomed by the profession,” Mr Pynenburg said.

Members of the New Zealand Registered Architects Board consist of seven Architects and one person representing the pubic interest. They are:
Ron Pynenburg, chair; Brian Elliott; Jane Aimer; Gordon Moller; Don McRae; Deborah Cranko; Gordon Holden; and representing the pubic interest, Carolyn Bull. Ms Bull is a senior legal practitioner, is currently a Families Commissioner, and was previously a Human Rights Commissioner.

The board celebrated the launch today by inspecting the award-winning Oriental Bay redevelopment in Wellington. The beach development received the Supreme Award for the Year of the Built Environment. The judges at the time said that the project was of the highest calibre, linking vision, style and technical excellence.

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Registered Architects Act 2005 - Q&A

What is it?

- A new Act was passed by Parliament in 2005 is replacing the old 1963 Act governing architects.

- It puts in place a new registration system for architects.

- The new Act comes into effect on July 1, 2006.

- It establishes a new board – the New Zealand Registered Architects Board (NZRAB), which consists of seven architects and one person representing the public interest.

- The new board is responsible for the registration system, and the handling of complaints and disciplinary matters against registered architects.

What is changing?

- The Act puts new requirements in place for architects who want to become “registered architects”. The new Act:
I. Requires architects to adhere to a minimum standard of ethical conduct
II. Requires architects to maintain professional competence throughout their practicing careers through continuing professional development.
III. Empowers the board, enabling it to make fines of up to $10,000, require registered architects to undergo supervision or training, or suspend or cancel a person’s registration.
IV. The only people able to use the term “architect’ are those who are registered architects – people who design buildings, prepare plans and specifications for buildings, or who supervise the construction of buildings may not use the title.

Why have these changes been made?

- The new Act helps to maintain high standards in the profession and provide better public protection.

- It will allow the public to distinguish architects who have met the high standards of registration from others.

- This Act helps people who are building and renovating to decide between using registered architects (who have demonstrated specific minimum standards of competence) and any other professionals who work in the architecture and design field.

- The aim is not only to provide consumer protection it is also to modernise the regulation of architects and maintain consistency between the regulation of architects and similar occupational groups.

- Similar changes have also been introduced for engineers and builders.

Who will it affect?

- Architects, registered architects and design professionals, or anyone building and renovating and using these professionals or allied building trades.

What will it mean for architects?

- First, it will protect the use of the term ‘registered architect’.

- Architects will need to apply for initial registration with the Registered Architects Board before 1 April 2007. This includes paying a fee and submitting information on their qualifications and work experience.

- All architects who are approved, as registered architects will need to undertake ongoing professional development to remain registered. Every five years, the Board assesses registered architects for current competence.

- The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) provision in the Act means that architects will need 1000 points in a full range of competencies and contexts over five years.

- The management of the CPD has been contracted to the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

- These requirements are set down in the Registered Architects Rules 2006.

What’s in it for the consumer?

- You have a choice when building and renovating to use registered architects, who are qualified design professionals.

- Using registered architects means you have certainty on the standard of professionalism, knowledge and experience.

- Consumers have increased protection; they can make complaints about the conduct of a registered architect based on breaches of the standards of ethical conduct, incompetence or negligence.

- Under the old system complaints could only be brought on the grounds of gross negligence or gross incompetence.

- This protection is further extended by provision of meaningful enforcement and sanction provisions, including financial penalties, or in severe case being suspended or struck-off the register.

- The board can provide to members of the public the name and registration number of a registered architect and confirm that the architect has operated within the code for the past three years.


ENDS

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