Designating an area for building management during or after an emergency

Last updated: 4 March 2022

When an emergency strikes an area and a building or buildings may be damaged there are powers to designate an area for managing buildings during and after the emergency under Subpart 6B of the Building Act 2004.

What does the Building Act allow?

The Building Act 2004 provides a system and powers for managing buildings after an emergency. Subpart 6B of the Building Act provides an end-to-end process for managing buildings following an emergency event.

These powers can be exercised during and following an emergency, and provide additional ways to manage risks to life and property from damaged buildings and land.

Similar powers and protective measures available when a state of emergency is declared, such as notices (placards) that prohibit access to buildings, however, these lose their legal force when the state of emergency or transition period ends.

Therefore when longer-term management of buildings is required, designating an area under the Building Act provides powers for this longer-term management.

Once a designated area is in place, the Building Act provides a number of additional powers that may be exercised in respect of all buildings within the designated area.

Who can designate an area?

Who can designate an area depends on whether an area is subject to a state of emergency or transition period under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002.

Within an area that is subject to a state of emergency or transition period under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act, a designation can be made by a relevant Civil Defence Emergency Management decision maker.

This means either the Minister for Emergency Management or a person appointed or otherwise authorised under section 25 of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act to declare a state of local emergency or give notice of a local transition period (as the case may be) for the area (either the mayor or another decision maker who is appointed under these powers).

If a state of emergency or transition period is not in place, an area can be designated by:

  • the Minister for Building and Construction; or
  • the Territorial Authority for the relevant area, with prior approval of the Minister for Building and Construction.

To seek the Minister's approval to designate an area, the Territorial Authority must complete a designation form and email it to BuildingActEmergencyManagement@mbie.govt.nz

MBIE will facilitate the approval of and report to the Minister for Building and Construction about the designation for the Territorial Authority.

Request to designate an area for emergency management (PDF 371KB)

Request to extend the designation of an area for emergency management (PDF 351KB)

Request to terminate the designation of an area for emergency management (PDF 344KB)

What is a designated area?

A designated area is an area affected by an emergency where it has been determined by the relevant authority that additional powers are required to manage buildings during and following the emergency.

The powers are set out in Subpart 6B of the Building Act.

The designation must be in the public interest, as well as being necessary or desirable for the protection of one or more of the following:

  • people, from injury or death
  • buildings, from damage or disruption to their use
  • public thoroughfares, from disruption
  • critical infrastructure, from damage or disruption to its operation or use
  • people or buildings, from the effects of insanitary conditions in the relevant area.

The designated area must be a defined area.

What powers can be used in a designated area?

When an area is designated, powers are available to the responsible person to:

  • enter buildings and land
  • complete post-event assessments
  • direct the evacuation of buildings
  • put in place measures for protecting buildings and keeping people at a safe distance
  • place notices and signs on buildings
  • direct the owners of building or land to provide information
  • direct works (urgent and non-urgent) to remove or reduce risks
  • direct works for long term use or occupation of a building.

Many of the powers are similar to those available under a state of emergency, however they are confined to building management activity within the designated area.

There are principles that should guide the use of these powers, as set out in s133BN. These can be read in the factsheet.

Designating an area for building management (factsheet)

How long does the designation last for?

Until the designation is no longer in the public interest. The responsible person will review the designation at least every 90 days and notify the public of the outcome of this review. A designation can be terminated for a specific part of the designated area, or the whole area.

A designation of an area is in force for three years unless it is terminated earlier or extended. The designation can be extended one time for a further three years.

The responsible person can let MBIE know of and the outcomes of their reviews by emailing information to BuildingActEmergencyManagement@mbie.govt.nz

The outcomes of reviews must be notified publicly.

Current designated areas

There are currently designated areas in the following parts of New Zealand. If you wish to find out more about these designations, refer to the relevant council or territorial authority website.

Designated Area Next Review Date
West Auckland, Auckland Council Monday 30 May 2022
Wider Buller Region, Buller District Thursday 2 June 2022
Papatoetoe, Auckland Council Thursday 16 June 2022
Tairawhiti, Gisborne District Council Wednesday 29 June 2022
Westport Township Thursday 14 July 2022
Mahakipawa, Marlborough District Sunday 24 July 2022
Levin Township, Horowhenua District Council Thursday 18 August 2022

More information on designating an area for building

Designating an area for building management - fact sheet

Designating an area for building management - quick guide

Guidance for decision makers and territorial authorities

More information for building owners in a designated area

Information for building owners

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: