Seismic risk series

About these documents

  • Published on 4 July 2022
  • Updated on 5 April 2024


No part of Aotearoa/New Zealand is immune to earthquakes. While some areas of the country experiences earthquakes more frequently, earthquakes can and do ultimately occur in any part of the country, just at a much lower frequency. Even though an area may experience earthquakes less frequently, this does not mean there is no seismic risk. No matter where you are, it is necessary to consider, plan for, and manage seismic risk.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's (MBIE) seismic risk resource and guidance documents provides help for people to make risk informed decisions about their buildings.


Engineering design standards and our understanding of earthquakes have advanced over time, as a result of learnings from the 2011 Canterbury and 2016 Kaikōura earthquakes. Consequently, many older buildings do not meet the current standards required of new buildings.

The MBIE seismic risk series has been created to help building users, tenants and owners understand seismic assessments of their buildings and make risk-informed decisions about continued occupancy of these buildings. It also provides tools and information for engineers and their clients to discuss seismic assessments and what these mean for building performance in an earthquake.

MBIE seismic risk series

Seismic Risk Guidance for Buildings

To help building users, tenants and owners interpret and make ongoing occupancy decisions based on the outcome of a seismic building assessment, and to provide tools and language for engineers and their clients to discuss seismic assessments.

Intended audience:

  • Residential and commercial building users, owners, tenants
  • Engineers

Date: 2022

Use this document: When deciding whether to continue occupying a seismically vulnerable building.

Seismic Risk Guidance for Buildings [PDF 2.7MB]

Seismic Risk Resource for Commercial Building Tenants

To help commercial building tenants on how to understand seismic risk tolerance and inform decisions about the required seismic performance of buildings they occupy or are considering leasing, based on the work each organisation does.

Intended audience: Commercial building tenants

Date: 2024

Use this document: To know whether the expected seismic performance of the building is right for the business operations of the occupier.

Seismic Risk Resource for Commercial Building Tenants [PDF 2.7MB]

Seismic Risk Resource: Introduction to Low Damage Seismic Design for Buildings

To introduce the philosophy and benefits of low damage seismic design, explain the key terms involved and what the value of a low damage seismic design approach to building design means for developers, owners, and tenants.

Intended audience: Commercial building owners, developers, tenants.

Date: Coming in 2024

Use this document: When considering undertaking a building project, or purchasing or leasing a building, that seeks to limit future earthquake damage and support faster recovery.


Give us your feedback on the Seismic Risk Resources -

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: