Wellington Scoop

Fran Wilde wants Wellington to spend $3b on quake protection for infrastructure

Report from RNZ
A 7.5 magnitude quake on the Wellington fault would cost New Zealand more than $16 billion in lost economic activity, unless the region’s infrastructure is improved, a new report says.

The report, by the Wellington Lifelines Group, said the cost would be in lost economic activity alone – without counting the social or recovery cost or building damage.

Electricity and other supplies could be “out for months” if the region doesn’t continue – or hasten – the investment, said group chair Dame Fran Wilde.

A 20-year investment programme, costing about $3b, to get services to the point where they stay operating or recover sooner, would reduce the economic loss to about $10b, the report estimates. Some of this was already underway but much was unfunded.

It would put the regional – and national – economy on a much better footing, Dame Fran said.

The critical feature was is that work had to be done in the correct sequence. “There’s little benefit, for example, in having a highly resilient water network if electricity isn’t available for the water pumping station,” she told Morning Report.

The investment would also help build confidence in Wellington, where the issue of insurance premiums is of growing concern.

“We know that this government is very committed to infrastructure improvement, and so we’re hoping that they will look on Wellington as an essential case, if you want, and we know from Christchurch that when we do put in resilience prior to the event, it is it has a much better outcome.”

But there was definitely not a case for moving the capital, she said.

“Where would you move it to? An active volcano field in Auckland? The Alpine Fault in the South Island? All of New Zealand is at risk from some kind of natural disaster and we need to start planning for it and thinking about it well in advance.”

The Lifelines Group is made up of the Wellington regions’ councils, the area’s power, water, rail, road and port companies, Wellington airport and GNS.

It was established in 1993 to co-ordinate the physical risk management activities of Wellington utility and transport service providers.

The Wellington Lifelines Group works with its members to:

Learn from each other and co-ordinate activities
Facilitate discussion, particularly on hazard understanding and risk reduction measures on the Wellington Region’s infrastructure
Identify the effects of hazards on infrastructure, and to mitigate against those effects
Facilitate increased understanding of the interdependencies between infrastructure organisations
Develop best practice approaches to risk reduction, readiness, response and recovery for lifelines
Maintain awareness of the importance of lifelines, and of reducing their vulnerabilities.

Members of the Wellington Lifelines Group
Membership of the Wellington Lifelines Group is open to all lifeline utilities and related organisations operating in the Wellington metropolitan area, subject to payment of the annual membership grant. The current members are:

CentrePort Limited
GNS Science
Greater Wellington Regional Council
Hutt City Council
Kāpiti Coast District Council
New Zealand Transport Agency
Nova Energy
Porirua City Council
Upper Hutt City Council
Wellington City Council
Wellington Electricity Lines Limited
Wellington International Airport Limited
Wellington Water


  1. Meredith, 3. December 2019, 13:51

    Doom, gloom and despondency. Fran, can’t we just get on with enjoying what we have without this constant babble about imminent disaster?

  2. Micky, 3. December 2019, 14:29

    What Fran is suggesting is a waste of three billion dollars. You cannot prevent damage to electricity lines and major earthquake damage retroactively. Are they going to install gold plated bungees lines… I mean really !!?? Did no one tell her all water pumping station should already have generators. And who is going to fund this handout that sounds like a bureaucratic shuffle of billions from us to these companies.

  3. James Farland, 3. December 2019, 15:17

    This is the same person who sold off our key strategic asset the electricity network. So following this we should not ignore her proven lack of any business sense. It is just needless fearmongering.

  4. Footy Fan, 3. December 2019, 17:18

    I’m hoping the Cake Tin is declared an earthquake risk so it can be knocked down (together with the Fran Wilde Walk) asap and a new rectangular-shaped stadium with a roof can be erected in its place. The current stadium is simply awful. $3 billion should cover it.