Earthquake-prone buildings

​​​​​​Changes in national legislation mean that some building owners in the Ōpōtiki district will need to have their buildings assessed and seismic strengthening work carried out in the coming seven and a half (for priority buildings) to fifteen years (other buildings).

The provisions will only apply to commercial or industrial building, although some larger residential buildings may be covered. 

More detailed background on these national changes is available below.

If you have any questions, please call Katherine ​​Hall, Policy Planner on 07 315 3030.

​​Changes to national legislation

A national system for identifying, assessing and managing earthquake-prone buildings came into effect on 1 July 2017. This legislation sets timeframes (based on seismic risk and priority status) for identifying potentially earthquake-prone buildings and doing seismic work on them.

For Ōpōtiki building owners, it is important to understand that all of the Ōpōtiki District has been categorised as a high seismic risk area.

The legislation also defines priority buildings - 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.

Buildings like hospitals, emergency and education buildings are priority buildings because they are likely to be needed in an emergency or regularly occupied by more than 20 people.

Other buildings, such as unreinforced masonry 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. 

What this means for building owners  

Because Ōpōtiki is a high seismic risk area, Council must identify priority buildings within 2.5 years (that is by 1 January 2020) and other potentially earthquake-prone buildings within 5 years. 

Letters will be sent to the owners of priority buildings by 1 January 2020 requesting that a structural engineer undertakes an assessment of the building. 

You will have 12 months from the date you receive written notification from Council to carry out an assessment and you will need to cover the cost of the assessment.

Under the legislation, affected priority building owners must strengthen or demolish priority buildings within 7.5 years and other earthquake-prone buildings within 15 years.

Building owners who have previously received a Section 124 (Earthquake Prone Buildings) Notice will receive Earthquake Prone Building Notices to replace this.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has several useful resources, tools and guidance for building owners and what this new legislation may mean for them. ​

Other key aspects of the Act

We encourage building owners to carefully read the Act and advice from MBIE on earthquake prone building status and what it means for displaying notices, heritage building extensions, and any exemptions that may exist under the Act.

Recent activity

During September and October 2019 Council:

  • consulted with the community on roads or laneways that could be considered 'thoroughfares with high pedestrian and vehicle traffic'
  • contacted organisations that own buildings used for emergency management and education purposes to ascertain whether the buildings have been assessed for being earthquake-prone.​

14 November 2019:

Ōpōtiki District Council discussed the national legislation at their Ordinary Council Meeting on Tuesday 12 November 2019. Council noted the key thoroughfares in the Ōpōtiki township that were considered to have sufficient foot or vehicle traffic and unreinforced masonry buildings that could fall and risk injury or death in an earthquake.

Owners of these buildings will now receive letters letting them know that their buildings are considered potentially earthquake-prone 'priority buildings' and they are required to obtain a structural engineering assessment.

View the full Legislation targets building owners - action needed now media release.​

Designated thoroughfares:

  • A Church Street from Richard Street to Kelly Street
  • B King Street from Potts Avenue to St John Street
  • C Elliott Street from Potts Avenue to St John Street ending at the roundabout
  • D Kelly Street from Potts Avenue to the Kelly Street cemetery​


Page reviewed: 28 Feb 2020 12:23pm