Wellington Scoop

Ohariu MP publishes city council’s list of earthquake-prone Wellington buildings

News release from United Future NZ Party
Ohariu MP and UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne today placed the Wellington City Council’s list of earthquake-prone Wellington buildings on the UnitedFuture website.

On Tuesday, Mr Dunne called on Wellington civic leaders to provide a “roll call” of Wellington and the Hutt Valley’s commercial and public buildings that are classified as quake-prone.

Mr Dunne said the list was “a very positive response to my call for the Wellington City Council to release its list of at-risk earthquake buildings, and I am glad it has now done so.”

He said arguments against releasing the list were flimsy, and that people had the right to know which public and commercial buildings in the Capital were likely to be unsafe in the event of a substantial earthquake.

“Some people, such as Councillor Iona Pannett, have opposed releasing the list because it might frighten people. I would rather people were concerned before an earthquake, than dead after it,” he said. “I do not think people will behave in a knee-jerk way with this information, but they do have a right to know and make informed decisions about whether they wish to be in buildings that are not likely to perform well in an earthquake.

“That is not scare-mongering. It is giving people knowledge,” Mr Dunne said.

Mr Dunne said people had demonstrated a very sensible approach to the earthquake generally and he had no doubt this would continue.

The full list can be found here.

Note: where a building listed has the term ‘124 Served’, this means earthquake-prone building notices issued under Section 66 of the Building Act 1991 have been reissued a notice under Section 124 of the Building Act 2004 requiring strengthening.

What is earthquake-prone?

No surprise, say inner-city residents

Maximus on sewerage and emergencies


  1. Jarrod Coburn, 3. March 2011, 22:04

    Thank you Peter, for getting this information out. In a country that is so supportive of free market economics, it surprises me that this sort of information is kept secret by local authorities. I would have thought that if a building is constructed on an area (or in a way) that makes it an earthquake or tsunami risk then by openly and aggressively publishing that information the developer/landlord would be forced to improve the safety… or reduce the rent substantially.

    Once again, many thanks. A very useful contribution.

  2. Iona Pannett, 3. March 2011, 22:06

    Well it must be election year with releases coming from MPs of this kind. In the light of the tragedy in Christchurch, I think it is more appropriate to support the people of Christchurch and to evaluate how Christchurch can be built rather than scaring people away from particular buildings in Wellington.

    This release ignores that fact that the Council already lets people know what buildings are earthquake prone (done under the Building Act 2004) and that a sensitive approach must be taken to the issue of earthquake strengthening. The cost of bringing a building up to code is very high and in a recession, even more demanding.

    I think it would be helpful for MPs to look at whether incentives should be offered to owners once rehabilitation efforts are well under way in Christchurch. Further regulation may also be required.

    Keeping the city running is critical, much of Wellington’s wealth is built on commercial property. Scaring people away will not assist with strengthening, but simply make it harder to tenant them, thereby making it even harder to raise the necessary funds to strengthen.

    Iona Pannett
    Wellington City Councillor

  3. vryn evans, 4. March 2011, 11:51

    Notwithstanding J.Coburn’s platitudes to Mr.Dunne, I ask why only now after all the decades of the latter being a MP in the Wellington area has he arguably just awakened to the earthquake risk buildings here? Can J.Coburn prove WCC has refused disclosure either past or present on the state of high-risk buildings ?
    Ms Pannett’s comments are somewhat bureaucraticspeak. The situation regarding at risk buildings has been around for many years.
    I also ask: what about all the new buildings which have acres of glass frontage which will probably decapitate anyone who may be near them?

  4. Wellington.Scoop, 4. March 2011, 12:06

    There seem to be two Peter Dunnes.
    A press release last September from Colliers International Property Management and Heritage Property Management called for tax changes or government assistance to help pay for earthquake strengthening of Wellington buildings. The press release notes:
    On July 6 last year the two companies wrote to the government asking it to reconsider its tax regime to encourage investors to strengthen their historic buildings.
    But on 13 August the request was declined by Peter Dunne, Minister of Revenue, who said “From a tax policy perspective, allowing a deduction for the cost of upgrading and earthquake-strengthening heritage buildings, when these costs ought to be capitalised against the value of the building, would create a distortion in favour of investing in heritage buildings.”

  5. The Political Busker, 4. March 2011, 14:11

    Drop the rates for the buildings that are prone.

  6. JohnDH, 4. March 2011, 14:21

    Thanks for the good work Peter. I’m pleased to know which buildings are not yet strengthened, and I can manage my exposure to risk accordingly. If that means not working or shopping in an unstrengthened building, so be it. Frighteningly, I see two buildings where I worked for a total of 10 years are on the list. The owners chose not to inform their staff. Unbelievable.

  7. richard maclean, 4. March 2011, 18:59

    Just by way of clarification, the list of potentially quake-prone buildings has not been ‘released’ by Wellington City Council in response to any entreaty by Mr Dunne.
    The list is public information available to anyone who asks for it. Most sectors of the news media have copies and have published details from it over the years and it is routinely given to anyone who wants it.
    The list is not on our website because it is frequently changes – it would be problematic to keep an internet version up to date and accurate.
    The list contains information relating to buildings being evaluated by the Council as part of its Earthquake Prone Building (EPB) Project as well as properties where we have issued a earthquake prone building notice (‘Section 124’ notice).
    The Council’s earthquake-prone buildings project has been underway since 2006. It is due to be completed in 2013. Of a total of 3800 buildings that we will check we have completed a full review of some 1640 buildings. Out of that number we have issued earthquake-prone ‘Section 124’ notices for 170 buildings.
    Based on our own review, as well as input from owners and their engineers we are satisfied the other 1470 buildings are not quake-prone. We are also evaluating about 1000 buildings. These would be described as potentially earthquake-prone.
    When a building is described as potentially earthquake-prone it means the Council has not completed its review of that building. It also means we are working with both the building owners, their engineers and our own engineers to assess whether the building would be classified as earthquake-prone. This part of the process can sometimes take a number of months to resolve as engineers undertake analysis of the building, including how it was built and site (soil) conditions.
    The evaluation of a potentially quake-prone building is on a case by case basis and it should not be assumed that if a building is described as potentially earthquake-prone, that it will in fact be found to be quake-prone.
    If people want to know more about a specific building then they should feel free to contact the Council. If people are considering selling or purchasing a building which may be on the list then they should definitely obtain a property or land information memorandum.
    Richard MacLean
    WCC Communications

  8. Mike, 4. March 2011, 20:49

    >> Keeping the city running is critical, much of Wellington’s wealth is built on commercial property.
    I would suggest upgrading these buildings is a small price to pay, compared to them collapsing into a heap of rubble. Building owners are playing with people’s lives here, shame on them for not informing tenants of the risk. If they don’t want to bring the buildings up to spec, then tenants of course will leave, and the public will think twice about entering them. Then they will be empty.

  9. Jessica, 5. March 2011, 1:08

    Iona Pannett: People have a RIGHT to know when their lives are at risk because of dodgy buildings! People are not little children that you can decide their lives for. You are a servant of the public, you are not there to dictate how people run their lives. Hiding this information should be against the law.

  10. Jess, 5. March 2011, 1:11

    Do councillors have to disclose their commercial interests in earthquake prone buildings?

  11. Peter @ HPM, 5. March 2011, 19:05

    Mr Dunne should review the letter that Heritage & Colliers property management sent him back in July 2010 advising him that there are some 15,000 heritage and potentially EQPB in NZ of which the government via the Police, Justice and various other departments has huge strengthening bills to face not to mention the 74 councils & TAs as well.
    Given the huge cost associated with the Christchurch Rebuild, the govt needs to have policies to entice building owners to strengthen & make their buildings safer for all !!!
    Given that it’s an election year this is likely to remain a hot topic.

  12. Jessica, 6. March 2011, 0:00

    Richard MacLean: “The list is not on our website because it is frequently changes – it would be problematic to keep an internet version up to date and accurate.”

    It would be very easy to keep such a list available for public view online. The list is in some database and it would be easy to put the results up online. It is not time consuming to do this.

  13. vryn evans, 11. March 2011, 12:38

    Unfortunately, Mr MacLean has an updated database problem – possibly being brought about having to handwrite the information!!