Last updated: 25 August 2023

Seismic work - background

The Seismic Work Programme is working to manage the seismic risk to New Zealand’s buildings.

Seismic Work Programme overview

MBIE's Seismic Work Programme is responsible for ensuring the building system adapts to new knowledge around building performance. Building Performance is responsible for managing New Zealand's central regulatory system for building. This includes being responsible for, and making changes to, building legislation and regulations to meet New Zealand’s current and future needs.

Incorporating new knowledge and ensuring performance

We will consider how we approach the design of new buildings to manage the overall seismic risk in New Zealand, including what the updated National Seismic Hazard Model means for new buildings. We are currently working with Engineering New Zealand to assess what changes to building design standards are required, and how to include the National Seismic Hazard Model results in regulatory settings for new buildings.

Managing risk settings for existing buildings

New scientific information provides an opportunity to consider how seismic risk is managed in buildings that are not included in the earthquake-prone building system. We are looking at how to identify and manage seismic risk more broadly as we increase our knowledge of seismic hazard and our understanding of how buildings perform during earthquakes.

The earthquake-prone building system

The earthquake-prone building system focuses on the most vulnerable buildings and people’s life safety. The earthquake-prone building system places New Zealand into three seismic risk areas and sets timeframes for identifying and taking action to strengthen or remove earthquake-prone buildings.

Managing the earthquake-prone building system

As our understanding of earthquake risk, building performance and building safety evolves, it is important to consider whether the earthquake-prone building system should also be periodically adjusted to reflect this updated knowledge.

Due to the nature of the system, which seeks to address earthquake-prone buildings over several decades, we want to ensure that any changes to regulations will be made with ample notice and careful consideration. To support this approach, we have developed a framework for considering potential changes against a consistent set of criteria. These criteria will ensure the benefits and impacts of proposed changes are carefully considered and balanced, which will support transparent and robust decisions about change.

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: