Earthquake-prone buildings and consultation on thoroughfares


1 ​​Introduction

A national system for identifying, assessing and managing earthquake-prone buildings came into effect on 1 July 2017. It targets buildings or parts of buildings that pose the greatest risk to public safety and other property in a moderate earthquake.

The system categorised New Zealand into three seismic risk areas: high, medium and low. It sets timeframes, based on the seismic risk area, for identifying potentially earthquake-prone buildings and doing seismic work on them.

It also provides information for people using earthquake-prone buildings, such as notices identifying earthquake-prone buildings and a public register. ​

2 Priority buildings

The new system introduced the concept of 'priority buildings'. These are certain types of buildings in high and medium seismic risk areas that are considered to present a higher risk to life or other property because of their construction, type, use or location. Priority buildings need to be identified and remediated within half the time allowed for other buildings in the same seismic risk areas.

Certain hospital, emergency and education buildings are prioritised in the Building Act 2004 because they are likely to be needed in an emergency or regularly occupied by more than 20 people.

Other buildings, such as unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings, may be considered a priority because, in an earthquake, parts of the building could fall on to thoroughfares with high pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

Further guidance on priority buildings is available at:  

Ōpōtiki District has been categorised as a high seismic risk area. This means that Ōpōtiki District Council must identify 'priority' buildings within 2.5 years and other potentially earthquake-prone buildings within 5 years. Affected building owners will be contacted by Ōpōtiki District Council and must strengthen or demolish priority buildings within 7.5 years and other earthquake-prone buildings within 15 years[1].

More information about the new system can be found at:  

3 ​Why we're consulting

Your input is required to identify some 'priority' buildings

To determine which other buildings may be 'priority' buildings that Ōpōtiki District Council must identify:

Thoroughfares with sufficient vehicular or pedestrian traffic to warrant prioritising the identification of certain URM buildings and parts, if part of a building were to fall on to them in an earthquake.

Your views on the acceptable level of risk, our buildings, and their uses will inform Ōpōtiki District Council decision on which thoroughfares to identify.

This consultation is in accordance with section 133AF of the Building Act 2004, which require Ōpōtiki District Council to use the special consultative procedure in section 83 of the Local Government Act 2002 to identify these priority buildings. 

4 Have your say

Your views can be provided to Ōpōtiki District Council by any of the following methods:

  • writing to Council at PO Box 44, Ōpōtiki 3162
  • emailing​
  • completing the online submission form
  • completing a hardcopy submission form which is available at Council's office at 108 St John Street, Ōpōtiki ​or the Ōpōtiki District Library

The consultation period will be from Monday 9 September 2019 to Friday 18 October 2019.  The last day for submissions will be Friday 18 October 2019. 

All submissions will be made available to the Council and they will take them in to consideration when making decisions.​ 

5 Proposals​

5.1       Vehicular and pedestrian thoroughfares with sufficient traffic to warrant prioritisation

Ōpōtiki District Council has applied the following criteria to identify roads, footpaths or other thoroughfares to be prioritised:

1.    High pedestrian areas (people not in vehicles)

Description of use Description of area small town or rural area
Areas relating to social or utility activities Areas where shops or other services are located shopping area on the main street, pubs, community facilities such as the library
Areas relating to work Areas where concentrations of people work and move around Areas around businesses in small towns and rural areas where there is a concentration of workers in numbers larger than small shops or cafes
Areas relating to transport Areas where concentrations of people access transport Areas around bus stops and tourist centres
Key walking routes Key walking routes that link areas where people are concentrated Routes from bus stops or other areas relating to transport to areas where shops, other services or areas people work are located


2.    Areas with high vehicular traffic (people in motor vehicles/on bikes)

Description of use Description of area small town or rural area
Key traffic routes Key traffic routes regularly used by vehicles including public transport Well trafficked main streets or sections of state highways, arterial routes
Areas with concentrations of vehicles Areas where high concentrations of vehicles build up Busy intersections


3.    Potential for part of an unreinforced masonry building to fall on to the identified.

​Ōpōtiki District Council proposes the following thoroughfares be prioritised.  See below for a map of the proposed locations. 

proposed thoroughfaresno.comments
Church Street, Ōpōtiki from Richard to Kelly StreetAThis area is the primary part of the district's business area.  There are approximately 1200 vehicle movements per day on this road.  The area contains the majority of the district's shops.  There are a high number of unreinforced masonry buildings. 
King Street, Ōpōtiki from Potts Avenue to St John Street ending at the roundaboutBThe area is part of the town centre.  There are unreinforced masonry buildings in the area.
Elliott Street, Ōpōtiki from Potts Avenue to St John StreetCThe area is part of the town centre.  There are unreinforced masonry buildings in the area.
Kelly Street, Ōpōtiki from Potts Avenue to the cemetery in Kelly StreetDThe area is part of the town centre. 

Ōpōtiki District Council seeks your views on whether these roads, footpaths and other thoroughfares warrant prioritisation. It also seeks your views on whether there are any other thoroughfares that should be included. ​

Our submission form​ asks the following questions:

  1. Do you agree with the thoroughfares identified for prioritisation?
  2. If not, which thoroughfares do you disagree with and why?
  3. Are there any other thoroughfares that meet the criteria but are not listed?


6.         What happens next?

Once the submissions have been received and collated, a report will be prepared for Council.  The report will be available on Council's website three days prior to the Council meeting. 

Once priority thoroughfares have been finalised, Council will look at buildings on those thoroughfares to determine whether they are potentially earthquake prone in accordance with the EPB methodology[1]. Affected building owners will be notified.

Owners of potentially earthquake-prone buildings, whether or not they are priority buildings, have 12 months to provide an engineering assessment. Council will then determine whether the building is earthquake prone, and notify the building owner of remediation requirements.


7.         Further information

Further information on the system for managing earthquake-prone buildings can be found at:

If you wish to discuss the thoroughfares, transport routes of strategic importance or any aspect of the identification of earthquake-prone buildings please contact Sue Robb, Policy Planner on 07 315 3030 or at 

[1] The EPB methodology is a regulatory tool that sets out the types of buildings that Ōpōtiki District Council must identify as potentially earthquake prone.

Map 1 - Proposed thoroughfares

Page reviewed: 09 Sep 2019 8:30am