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]






The 3 seismic zones have different times frames for councils and owners to complete the work required

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

Decision on priority area consultation

After going through a public consultation process, Council has decided to classify the following areas as  earthquake priority areas.

  • Otautau - 126-176 Main Street from the Alderley Street intersection to the Chester Street intersection
  • Riverton - 96 - 176 Palmerston Street from Jetty Street to in part just past Princess Street
  • Winton - 102 – 304 Great North Road from Bute Street intersection to George Street Intersection
  • Wyndham - Balaclava Street from Redan Street towards Scutari Street not including numbers 12, 42, 44, 61 and 63 Balaclava Street.

In the next 6 months Council staff will be assessing each building in the identified areas to determine whether the owner will be required to provide an engineering report to Council.

Council will be following the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment guidance documents to undertake these assessments. The Building Act 2004 requires councils to complete their assessments of priority areas by July 2022. 

Following on from this we will be assessing each building in the District to determine if an engineering report is required. In the medium seismic zone the timeframe set out by the Building Act is July 2027. We anticipate to complete these assessments ahead of schedule by 2023.

Not all buildings come under this legislation. Residential houses, farm buildings, bridges, tunnels and monuments where people can’t enter are not part of this legislation.

Hostels boarding houses or other specialised accommodation that are 2 or more storeys, however, will need to be assessed.  

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) .