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


Law to save lives in earthquakes takes effect

Hon Dr Nick Smith

Minister for Building and Construction

3 July 2017
Law to save lives in earthquakes takes effect

New laws requiring the identification and upgrade of earthquake prone buildings come into effect this week, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“Earthquakes are New Zealand’s biggest natural hazard risk, with the greatest danger coming from building failures. We cannot completely eliminate the risk to life from quakes but, just as modern cars are safer in an accident, modern buildings are safer in a quake. These new laws involve an uncomfortable and inevitable trade-off between safety and cost but will save hundreds of lives in future quakes when fully implemented.

“The new regime divides New Zealand into three earthquake categories. In high risk areas, like Wellington, buildings need to be assessed within five years and upgraded within 15 years. In medium risk areas like Hamilton or Nelson, the timeframe is 10 and 25 years respectively, and in low risk areas like Auckland it is 15 and 35 years.

There is also flexibility in the regime to add 10 years to the timetable for registered heritage buildings and to exempt buildings with low risk and low usage.

“We’re prioritising schools, hospitals and emergency buildings like fire stations, requiring that they be assessed and upgraded in half this time. We are also prioritising unreinforced masonry facades and parapets in high traffic areas because too many lives were lost in Christchurch from these features.

“We are supporting implementation of the new Act with regulations to help councils identify potentially earthquake prone buildings and also new engineering guidelines to ensure better consistency in assessments. The new law targets many public buildings, and we have committed hundreds of millions to replacing and upgrading these. We have also established an assistance fund to help private owners of heritage buildings.

“I am also exploring options for Government assistance in multi-unit complexes
where some parties may struggle to raise the finance for their share of strengthening costs. Officials are considering whether we could extend other Government housing guarantee products schemes to assist in these circumstances.

“This is an ambitious new policy for better managing earthquake risks from buildings.

Few seismically active countries require upgrades of existing buildings. There has been years of consideration following the Christchurch earthquakes, with the Royal Commission and multiple rounds of consultation. Now it’s time for getting on with the job.”


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Why Labour Isn’t Responsible For Barnaby Joyce

As a desperate Turnbull government tries to treat the Barnaby Joyce affair as a Pauline Hanson fever dream – blame it on the foreigners! We’re the victims of the dastardly New Zealand Labour Party! – our own government has chosen to further that narrative, and make itself an accomplice.

Evidently, the National government is similarly desperate for anything that might discredit or derail the Ardern juggernaut, even if that means throwing Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne under a bus More>>


Treaty: Agreement In Principle Signed With Moriori

“The Crown acknowledges Moriori was left virtually landless from 1870, hindering its cultural, social and economic development. The Crown also acknowledges its contribution to the myths that the people of Moriori were racially inferior and became extinct." More>>


Susan Devoy: Call For Inquiry Into State Abuse Reaches UN

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy is in Geneva and has asked a United Nations committee to urge the New Zealand government to initiate an inquiry into the physical and sexual abuse of children and disabled people held in state institutions. More>>


(Not National): Cross-Party Agreement On Pike River Re-Entry

The commitment was signed this afternoon by the leaders of Labour, United Future, The Maori Party, and the Green Party and, together with the earlier commitment by New Zealand First, means that there is now a Parliamentary majority behind the families’ fight for truth and justice. More>>



Mental Health Foundation: 'Positive First Steps'

“The heavy reliance on pilots and targeted approaches in the package announced today makes it plain that additional funding will be needed so that activities that work can be made available throughout New Zealand,” says Mr Robinson. More>>


'Gift' To NZ: Synod Considers Third Christchurch Cathedral Option

Members of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch will consider three, not two, options regarding the future of the ChristChurch Cathedral... The new option is for the Synod to gift the Cathedral building to the Government for the people of New Zealand. More>>


PM's Presser: Labour's Water Policy 'Reckless', Says English

The Labour Party has "bumbled into" its policy to charge for water in a "reckless" way that would put a Labour-led government on a collision course with both Maori and other water users, Prime Minister Bill English said at his weekly post-Cabinet press conference.. More>>





Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election