Achieving Safety Through Standards


On Feb 2 2006, the Honourable Lianne Dalziel, Minister of Commerce, and the Honourable Clayton Cosgrove, Minister for Building Issues, are co-hosting an event at Parliament’s Grand Hall to mark the 75th anniversary of the Napier Earthquake and the subsequent establishment of Standards New Zealand.

Guests from government and building sector organisations will commemorate the disaster, while also recognising the subsequent achievements in a community that prioritises safety and quality for the benefit of all.

On February 3, 1931 the Hawkes Bay region was struck by the worst earthquake in New Zealand’s history.  The quake measured 7.9 on the Richter scale.  The death toll was 258, fire spread throughout Napier and Hastings, major Napier buildings and landmarks were completely destroyed, areas of coastline were dislodged and the landscape changed forever.  Following this disaster, Standards New Zealand was established to ensure future such events did not result in the same loss of life.

“Unfortunately, it is often a tragic event that spurs society into action,” says Standards New Zealand Chief Executive Rob Steele.  “The loss of life and property that occurred 75 years ago will never be forgotten. We now pay tribute to those New Zealanders who died and whose lives were affected.  But we can also acknowledge the changes that have occurred over 75 years and the improvements in safety and quality that have been achieved.”

“Today the work we do at Standards New Zealand helps to minimise the risk of disaster, and to solve current or potential problems,” says Mr Steele.

Standards New Zealand was originally established to support the new national Building Code. The Code was developed by Government, as it was clear (after the Napier earthquake) that building design and construction methods were inadequate.

Shortly after 1932, our first earthquake Standard was developed, and at the end of 2004, we published the latest update to this Standard.  “Like all Standards, it was developed by a committee of experts in the field, and it is designed to minimise risk and ensure safety.  This Standard provides engineers with the latest technical information to ensure the buildings they design incorporate world class earthquake protection.
“Construction and engineering remain very prominent and important to the work of Standards New Zealand and today there are 650 building-related Standards.  However, the range of sectors that now enjoy the benefits of Standards has expanded dramatically,” says Mr Steele.

“Standards are solutions that benefit New Zealand in a huge range of ways. We welcome the support of our partners in the future to develop Standards for all New Zealanders.”

For further information, or if you would like to attend the event, contact: Zoe Priestley, ph 04 498 3986 or 021 475 945