Government response to the Canterbury Earthquake Royal Commission

Issue 50 – June 2013

Overall, the Government has accepted the recommendations made by the Canterbury Earthquake Royal Commission, and has started working on a programme that will mean New Zealand's existing and future buildings are more resilient to disaster and that when a disaster occurs we are better equipped to cope.

The Royal Commission was set up to investigate the failure of buildings bounded by the four avenues including the CTV, PGC, and Forsyth Barr Buildings as well as the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

The Royal Commission also looked at the failures of other buildings that resulted in fatalities as a result of the 22 February 2011 earthquake, as well as the legal and best practice requirements for the design, construction and maintenance of buildings in central business districts throughout the country.

Of the 189 recommendations it made, 170 have been accepted by the Government or accepted in principle.Accepted in principle recommendations will require certain laws be changed through a select committee and parliamentary process.

The Royal Commission made 13 recommendations following MBIE's recent consultation with the public on how to manage earthquake-prone buildings. Over 500 submissions are currently being analysed and decisions will be made later in the year.

Six recommendations have been noted because they refer to employment-related matters for MBIE to investigate further or require the Government to make final decisions.

The policy priorities are:

  • the management of earthquake-prone buildings
  • post-disaster building management
  • the regulation of the engineering profession.

The technical priorities in responding are:

  • revising the Building Code clause on structure
  • new geotechnical advice
  • land and natural hazards
  • further guidance on the assessment and remediation of buildings.

The response will be staged due to the wide-ranging nature of the work and the number of stakeholders the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will be working with.It is likely to take over 5 years to respond to all the recommendations.

The Royal Commission found that overall the system regulating the building and construction sector is sound but that changes and tweaks would make it even better.

Summarised from MBIE's Codewords 56, June 2013.

Published in building.