2023: An eventful year for Building Emergency Management

Posted: 11 December 2023

building emergency management 2023
This year has required a lot of mahi tahi/working together from building emergency management teams. A huge amount of effort has gone into response and recovery activities as severe weather hit many regions across Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Building management in an emergency requires having coordinated readiness, response, and recovery arrangements in place. These involve building owners, territorial authorities (TAs), Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups, agencies and building professionals. When damage-causing emergencies occur, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) helps TAs to manage resources to protect lives, buildings, and infrastructure.

Response work snapshot

This year, thousands of New Zealanders lives and livelihoods were affected by the Auckland Anniversary flood in February, Cyclone Gabrielle, and subsequent severe weather events. These events have continued to impact communities in many regions. Recovery is an on-going process.

It is important to acknowledge and thank all the TAs in the affected regions, and the hard mahi/work they have done to ensure the safety of their communities. Recognition is also due to the Rapid Building Assessors (RBAs) who volunteered for deployment to the affected areas and undertook rapid building assessments. These assessments quickly established the usability of buildings and associated infrastructure to ensure users of buildings were safe from harm.

Here are some statistics to show just how extensive the response work has been:

  • MBIE facilitated the designation of 11 areas in the North Island and continues to monitor 18 designations (20 at its peak).
  • More than 10,000 rapid building assessments were carried out since the Auckland Anniversary flooding event and Cyclone Gabrielle.
  • Number of placards in place: 

Placard colour

April 2023

November 2023











  • MBIE deployed 40 RBAs to affected regions, including two Tier 1 RBAs who were deployed to Hawke’s Bay to guide set up of their RBA operation.
  • MBIE also deployed a geospatial analyst to assist Wairoa District Council in the setup of a digital RBA assessment tool.

MBIE building emergency management team's work

The Building Emergency Management (BEM) team at MBIE pulls together expertise from across the organisation and works to fulfil MBIE’s BEM responsibilities. Assisting in the response to this year’s events together with the work programmes already in place have made for a busy year for the team. The BEM team’s response work in 2023 included:

  • providing legislative advice and support to affected TAs
  • partnering with BRANZ to facilitate the release of BRANZ flood damage guide to affected regions (Auckland Council printed several thousand copies and provided them to building occupants)
  • supporting the sharing of placard data to assist situational awareness and help relief agencies in their effort of providing support to affected communities
  • updating information, guidance, and tools to assist with building emergency management response and recovery. Read more about this work further below.

We would like to acknowledge the valued input of the Technical Work Group that assisted them in the work programme this year.

Rapid Building Assessor programme

RBAs are a critical component of the response to emergencies. They are deployed or mobilised across the country to assess the safety of buildings damaged in an emergency event. The MBIE BEM team is responsible for the stewardship of the overall RBA programme.

This year, the BEM team developed a new competency framework for RBAs, which specifies the technical competencies, practical experience and personal attributes required. More details about the framework are available on our website.

Rapid Building Assessor programme

RBA training work this year has included:

  • delivering training to over 300 building control officials (BCOs) and engineers from across the country
  • training sessions held in Auckland, Whangarei, Hamilton, Queenstown, Tauranga, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington
  • the issuing of 200 RBA ID cards
  • an updated programme for applicants who meet the competency requirements as Tier 2 and Tier 3 assessors
  • updating training material, including:
    • partnering with Hato Hone St John to incorporate a Mental Health First Aid course
    • learning modules for managing buildings in an emergency. These can be found on the Building Performance learning platform.

In 2024 MBIE will continue to roll out the training programme for RBAs as capability and capacity are built to respond to future events.

Revised rapid building assessment placards and forms

The rapid building assessment forms and placards have been revised. The forms and placards were simplified where practicable to make them easier for TAs and RBAs to use, and placard information has been simplified for building owners and occupiers. Digitised versions of the new assessment forms are also now available.

Read more about the changes, check out the step-by-step guide and watch the educational video on the new placards on our website.

Rapid building assessment placarding system

New and updated guidance

MBIE have a continuous improvement programme in place, ensuring that technical guidance and public information is up to date and fit for purpose. Below are some of the resources created to provide guidance to affected areas and those who need to repair and remediate damaged buildings.


The effects of an emergency can continue to be felt long after the event, and sometimes long-term management of buildings is required. The Building Act 2004 provides a flexible system and additional tools to TAs to manage buildings following an emergency event, by designating the area. New guidance has been developed for TAs to help them designate an area for the emergency management of buildings. This guidance includes information on the specific powers available for TAs under Subpart 6B of the Building Act, and what business as usual powers are affected while an area is designated. A step-by-step guide to designation process and an updated 90-day review form are now also available.

Designated areas for building emergency management

Natural hazards provision

The natural hazard guidance provides information to Building Consent Authorities and aims to explain the requirements and the steps that need to be taken before a consent can be granted for building work on land subject to natural hazard of inundation and in particular flooding.

Natural hazard sections of the Building Act

Slope stability

Guidance for homeowners and occupiers whose buildings might have been affected in adverse weather events with direction on how to go about remediating any damage done to their building, or surrounding areas that might impact the building.

Slope stability quick guide


Guidance to help with navigating the remediation and recovery work on flood damaged buildings:

  • Removal of silt deposited during flooding

Guidance on the impacts of silt on building performance, the related steps to consider in the clean-up process. It emphasises the core regulatory requirements associated with this work.

Removal of silt deposited during flooding quick guide

  • Discretionary exemptions for flood damaged buildings

This guidance provides a consistent starting point for Building Consent Authorities, Territorial Authorities and Regional Authorities when considering how to plan for and apply requirements for discretionary exemptions.

Discretionary exemptions for flood damaged buildings quick guide

  • Repair and replacement of plasterboard due to flooding

This guidance provides information for homeowners, building practitioners and council staff on repairing and replacing damaged plasterboard.

Repair and replacement of plasterboard due to flooding quick guide

Moving forward

We know the road to recovery from this year’s events is long and brings many challenges. MBIE continues to support the recovery efforts of affected regions and TAs. We will continue to work with other government agencies to better prepare for future events. MBIE is here to support home and building owners, and those in the building sector as our communities continue their journey to recovery.

If you have any questions, please contact the team at: buildingemergencymanagement@mbie.govt.nz

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: