Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Cosgrove 75th Anniversary of the 1931 EArthquake

Thursday, 2 February 2006

Embargoed 5.30pm Thursday 2 February 2006

Hon Clayton Cosgrove address to mark the 75th Anniversary of the 1931 Napier 75th Anniversary of the 1931 and the subsequent founding of Standards New Zealand

Venue and time: 5pm-7pm, Grand Hall, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

Good evening, first I would like to acknowledge the presence here this evening of my colleague, the Minister of Commerce, the Hon Lianne Dalziel, Richard Westlake, chairman of the Standards Council, Rob Steele, the chief executive of Standards New Zealand, and invited guests.

The devastation caused by the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake triggered a significant change in respect of New Zealand buildings. New standards for buildings were developed and in 1932, Standards New Zealand was established.

And since then it has provided robust and practical guidance to the construction industry.

As in many areas, the knowledge behind and technology of building has powered ahead in the last 75 years.

Look at what we now know about steel, about timber, about concrete methods. We’ve learned a great deal about fundamental design principles and we continue to learn.

Also, all of these things - new technology, building systems and products, building standards and design - are increasingly international.

While working towards better buildings at home, New Zealand can benefit and learn from the increased efficiencies and opportunities of the global market.

Indeed, this very building is an excellent example of modern day design and construction achieved through application of the Building Code.

Being masonry buildings, built before the 1931 earthquake, Parliament House and the Parliamentary Library were considered by structural engineers to be at risk of collapse in a major earthquake.

During their refurbishment from 1992 to 1995, the buildings were separated from their original foundations and placed on more than 400 lead rubber bearings. In an earthquake, this base isolation would reduce the transfer of earthquake forces from the foundations to the building above.

The idea of placing thousands of tons of rock on top of 400 lead rubber bearings would likely not have occurred to Joseph Campbell, the original architect, but it is precisely this kind of innovation and advance that we must allow for in regulation. It is worth noting that this was a Kiwi invention, designed by Wellington scientist Dr Bill Robinson, which is now used globally.

The materials and technologies used in construction are evolving quickly, and with it we have an ever-growing appreciation of just how complex buildings have become.

Seventy-five years on from the Hawke’s Bay disaster, the lessons of history are driving a new Building Code. Once again, we are looking to the future, forming expectations that combine New Zealand’s social, environmental and economic needs.

The Building Code Review project being undertaken by the Department of Building and Housing will set new performance standards for the buildings in which we live, work, and play.

This is part of a wider building regulatory reform agenda that has occurred as a result of a systemic failure, which manifested itself as leaky buildings.

As my colleague Lianne Dalziel so passionately championed when introducing the Building Act to the House in 2003, we must ensure that buildings are built right the first time and that consumers are protected.

It’s a big ask all round. Historically, building codes have progressed from being a response to physical hazards – such as fire and earthquakes – to consideration of social and environmental outcomes.

This review needs to look at the needs of an aging population, and one that is living closer together and in higher densities than before.

Therefore the review must both respond to demands and show leadership in dealing with resource efficiencies: using only the amount of energy we need, the amount of water we need, the amount of materials we need, and minimising waste.

Such expectations and requirements will require technologically advanced solutions, some of which we can’t yet develop or imagine. The new Code must foster innovation, while providing robust assurance about outcomes.

We are looking to move beyond individual aspects, beyond technical requirements, to consideration of the building as a system - a system that depends on the interaction of materials, construction methods, water, land, energy and people.

Existing home heating requirements, for instance, focus on the energy efficiency of individual parts – walls, floors, ceilings, or the roof. But the real aim is clearly to make a house – a system – that does an efficient job of keeping the people inside it warm, healthy and dry.

A ‘holistic’ approach to energy efficiency would make the result the important thing rather than the steps towards it.

The new Code will fit within the Government’s National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy, which sets targets to achieve best practice energy performance in new residential and commercial buildings.

Exactly like the wider environment, the way we deal with buildings must embody respect for both the system and the people within it. We have to think about results: what kind of place do we want to live and work in?

By expanding our view, the intention is to create sustainable, efficient buildings for New Zealanders. At the same time, we hope to foster innovation through a performance-based Code while making the expectations even clearer.

And, of course, it all has to be affordable. We’re not asking much!

Buildings, like societies, are complex systems. And like societies, we may always be searching for the ideal ‘right’ building. Our needs will continue to change, along with the materials at hand and our knowledge of how to use them.

But think where we have come from. And imagine how much more we will know in another 75 years.

I congratulate you on your anniversary.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Peters/Ardern Triumph

There are a lot of good reasons to feel joyful about this outcome. It is what so many young voters – the best hope for the country’s future – wanted.

Far more important than the implications for the Economy Gods ( is the dollar up or down? ) last night’s outcome will also mean many, many vulnerable New Zealanders will have a better life over the next three years at least.

Yet the desire for change was in the majority, across the country..>>>More


Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome | Greens on their joining Govt | EDS welcomes new govt | Immigrant groups worry | Feds ready to engage new coalition government | Labour Ministers of the Crown announced


Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election