Pahiatua Service Centre - Earthquake Strengthening

Final Update

The Earthquake strengthening project for the Pahiatua Service Centre has been completed and staff have been back in the building since September 2023.  The works to the Pahiatua Service Centre were aimed to ensure that it’s not only compliant with legal requirements but also to improve accessibility and extra safety features. The project not only addressed the seismic risks and complying with health and safety regulations but has also improved the overall functionality and user experience of the Pahiatua Service Centre.

Through the earthquake strengthening the buildings seismic strength rating was lifted from 8% to 67% indicating that the building now meets the safety standards set out in the new and updated Building Act for earthquake prone buildings and that this building has higher standards of safety for both staff and the public.

The Earthquake strengthening works included structural strengthening that preserved the building’s character. Additionally, the removal of asbestos and installation of new entrance doors demonstrate a commitment to modern safety standards and user comfort not only for staff but also for the public. The inclusion of wheelchair-friendly features like the modified ramp and service desk height shows a thoughtful approach to inclusivity and accessibility, ensuring that the renovated building is welcoming to all members of the community.

This project aims to improve the earthquake rating of the Council building in Pahiatua and to ensure a safe environment for staff and the public.

The building is at 136 Main Street.  It has been the local service centre for the Tararua District Council since 1989, and is used for other community meetings and events as well.

The building was constructed pre-1929 with unreinforced brick and masonry.  It has high walls (approximately 5m) formed by two layers of single thickness bricks with a cavity between them. This causes it to be structurally weak. It is in an area of high seismic risk and was subjected to the “Pahiatua Earthquake” in 1934.

Beca Limited (Beca) completed an initial seismic assessment on the building in July 2013.  The building was assessed at 8% of the New Building Standard, which deems it an earthquake-prone building. The initial assessment outlined ways to bring the building up to 34% of the new building standard, including an engineering solution utilising concealed steel reinforcement that keeps the character of the building.

The building is classified as a Category 2 with Heritage New Zealand. It’s the former Pahiatua County Council Chambers and was designed by prominent architectural firm C. Tilleard Natusch and Sons.

Why are we doing this?

  • to improve the earthquake rating of the Council building in Pahiatua
  • to ensure a safe environment for staff and the public

After Beca’s initial report, the Building Act was amended and new regulations were made that determined the methodology for strengthening buildings. In 2016 Beca revised their costings and they were asked to complete a detailed design for the strengthening repairs.

Council is expecting to receive those detailed designs soon. Once we have them, a decision on the detailed proposal, in consultation with Heritage NZ, can be made.

What are we doing?

  • Lift the building earthquake standard to 34% of the building code
  • Asbestos removal
  • New access
  • New entrance doors x 2 (fire exits and staff safety)
  • Modify the ramp
  • Wheelchair accessible (ramp and customer service desk height)
  • Additional exit complying with Health and Safety
  • Avoid disruption to current IT systems (work around existing tech)
  • Make sure power is sufficient to install lighting around the building in the future
  • Ensure customer service officer safety (safe exit points and desk height)

When are we doing this?

18 January 2022 - May 2022:

The Pahiatua Customer Services team will be moving into the Pahiatua Town Hall/Library until around May 2022.

We ask that customers please use the town hall entrance during this time. Please note there will be no disruptions to our service during this time.

31 January 2022:

Work begins on the Pahiatua Service Centre. There will be Traffic Management operational around the worksite. We do not anticipate any road closures at this moment in time.

Please note: Parking around the property will be restricted and/or unavailable during construction.

What happens to the Niches located in the Town Hall?

Please note that during the earthquake strengthening family members will still be able to visit the Niches located in the service centre at the Pahiatua Chambers by appointment only.

To book an appointment, please contact Councillor Shirley Hull: or send a text message to: 021 417 044.


Photos - Update June  2022