Knowing and understanding the new system for managing earthquake-prone buildings is important for everyone’s safety

Public Consultation open from September 7:  Have your say!

Council needs your help as we identify high pedestrian areas and areas with high vehicular traffic. You can learn more at:

*The closing date for submissions is Friday 16 October 2020 at 5pm. A submission form is available from Council, however any written form of submission will be received and considered.

Submissions can be via letter, email or via submission form.

Written submissions should be posted to the following address: Tararua District Council, PO Box 115, Dannevirke, 4942 or hand delivered to the Council’s reception at: 

  • Dannevirke Service Centre, 26 Gordon St, Dannevirke.
  • Woodville Service Centre and Library, 45 Vogel Street, Woodville.
  • Pahiatua Service Centre, 136 Main Street, Pahiatua.
  • Eketāhuna Service Centre and Library, 31 Main Street, Eketāhuna.

Submissions can also be emailed to: Please include ‘Priority Building Consultation’ in the subject field of the email. Submitters should note that their submission will be copied and made available to the public after the submission period closes.

A hearing will be scheduled after the submission period to hear any submissions made. Please state in your submission whether or not you wish to be heard. The Council will contact all submitters in writing to advise the confirmed time, date and venue of the meeting to hear submissions. The hearing will be open to the public. An analysis of all submissions and a final report will be presented to the Council for consideration and adoption.

The system for identifying and managing earthquake-prone buildings changed on July 1, 2017, when the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 came into force.

The new system aims to strike the right balance between protecting people from harm in an earthquake, the costs of strengthening or removing buildings and impacts on heritage.

Knowing and understanding the new system for managing earthquake-prone buildings is important for everyone’s safety as New Zealand is extremely prone to seismic activity, therefore ensuring the safety of people is paramount. Buildings need to be safe for occupants and users.

Experience from Christchurch and overseas has shown the failure of earthquake-prone building, or parts, can endanger lives. Thirty-nine people lost their lives when unreinforced masonry buildings failed during the Christchurch earthquake on February 22, 2011.

Earthquake risk reduction is a priority and the system categorises New Zealand into three seismic risk areas – high, medium and low. Tararua has been deemed High Risk, therefore owners of earthquake-prone buildings are required to take action to remediate their buildings within shorter time frames.

If Council determines your building as earthquake prone, it will assign it an earthquake rating and issue an Earthquake-prone Building (EPB) notice. You must display this notice in a prominent place on your building. Information about your building will also be entered in the EPB register of earthquake-prone buildings. The EPB notice will include the time frame for completing seismic work on your building. In general, owners of EPB buildings will have 15 years to strengthen or demolish the building from the date of the EPB notice.

The identification and remediation of earthquake-prone buildings which either pose a high risk to life safety, or are critical to recovery in an emergency are the priority. Priority buildings must be identified and remediated in half the time allowed for other earthquake-prone buildings, to reduce the risks to life safety more promptly. This means the Tararua District Council must identify potentially earthquake-prone priority buildings in this district and building owners must strengthen or demolish earthquake-prone priority buildings within seven and a half years.

Unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings on busy pedestrian and traffic thoroughfares are likely to be priority buildings due to their location and the potential impact of their failure in an earthquake on people.

An unreinforced masonry (URM) building has masonry walls that do not contain steel, timber or fibre reinforcement. URM buildings are older buildings which often have parapets, as well as verandas, balconies, decorative ornaments, chimneys and signs attached to their facades (front walls that face onto a street or open space).

Council is asking for feedback from the public to determine high-traffic thoroughfares, i.e., roads and footpaths with high vehicle or pedestrian traffic. Council believes there are roads and footpaths (thoroughfares) within the central business districts of Dannevirke, Woodville, Pahiatua and Eketāhuna with the potential for part of an unreinforced masonry (URM) building to fall on people and therefore warrant prioritisation. These tend to correspond to where State Highway 2 passes through the main commercial areas of these towns.

Council Officers and their engineering advisor have identified specific roads within these towns as proposed priority thoroughfares by considering streets with high traffic volumes, buildings within those streets with URM façade elements which are potentially earthquake prone and structural engineering reports on building files.

The new system ensures the way our buildings are managed for future earthquakes is consistent across the country and provides more information for people using buildings.

Council has two documents available with more information about the new system and the public consultation:

  • You can pick up a hard-copy from your nearest Council service centre or community library, 
  • or download a copy from the Council website:
  • Call 06 374 4080 or 06 376 0110 and request a copy to be mailed to you or 
  • Email and request a copy to be emailed to you.


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