Earthquake prone buildings


In May 2016, Parliament passed the Buildings (Earthquake-Prone Buildings) Amendment Act, which governs how owners must deal with earthquake-prone buildings. An earthquake-prone building is one that is less than one-third of the current structural standard.

In July 2017 the government passed new legislation as part of the Building Act 2004 (external link) , setting out how Councils, owners and Engineers must undertake assessments on buildings which have the potential to be earthquake prone. In addition, The Building (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) Regulations 2005 (external link) has been amended to add new requirements. Local Councils are no longer required to have individual policies for earthquake-prone buildings

Managing earthquake-prone buildings.

The new system affects owners of earthquake-prone buildings, local councils, engineers and other building professionals as well as those people who use the buildings.

The New system means

  • Council must identify potentially earthquake-prone buildings
  • Council must identify potentially priority earthquake-prone buildings and this may include a public consultation on thoroughfares with sufficient pedestrian or vehicular traffic (people in motor vehicles or on bikes).
  • Owners who are notified by their local council must obtain engineering assessments of the building carried out by a suitably qualified engineer, this will confirm or disprove Councils initial identification.
  • Council uses the engineering assessment to determine whether buildings are earthquake-prone, assign ratings, issue notices and publish information about the buildings in a national register for all earthquake-prone buildings in New Zealand (external link) .
  • Owners are required to display notices on their building and to remediate their building.

An overview of the system including seismic risk areas and time frames can be found on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) website (external link) .

What does this mean for Southland District?

New Zealand has been divided into three seismic risk areas (see map below) [PDF, 550 KB]; low, medium and high. Southland District spans across High, Medium and Low seismic risk areas.  Download a PDF versions of the map
[PDF, 550 KB]

Council has worked through the buildings in our district to identify those that are potentially earthquake-prone buildings. This is an initial assessment as set out by MBIE methodology. Owners will or have already been notified if their building is potentially an earthquake-prone building.

If you receive a notice from Council that your building may be an earthquake-prone building you will have one year to respond.

Further guidance for owners of potentially earthquake-prone buildings can be found on the MBIE website (external link) .

Public Consultation

Public consultations on thoroughfares in the medium seismic zone for Otautau, Riverton, Tuatapere, Winton and Wyndham will commence 10 August and finish 30 October 2020.

To have your say please follow the link, (external link) .

Funding and advice to earthquake strengthen heritage buildings

Heritage EQUIP is a central government programme that provides funding support to private owners of earthquake-prone heritage buildings. Please visit their site and the funding eligibility tool at’ (external link)

If you have any questions regarding planning and managing your project please contact Heritage EQUIP at or 04 499 4229.

More information

If you have questions about earthquake-prone buildings email  or phone 0800 732 732. More resources can be found at, (external link)

More information on earthquake-prone buildings can be found at, (external link) .