Guidance for decision-makers and territorial authorities

About this document

  • Published on 6 July 2018
  • Updated on 18 December 2019
  • Of interest to Territorial Authority, Building owners, Regional authorities, Heritage New Zealand, Architects, Building control officers, Geotechnical engineers, Structural engineers,
  • ISBN: 978-1-98-851775-9 (Print) / 978-1-98-851774-2 (Online)


This guide describes the roles and responsibilities of central and local government, and of other agencies, for managing buildings affected by an emergency, from the initial response right through to recovery.

It explains how territorial authorities should plan for, and carry out, rapid building assessments. It also provides guidance on the use of emergency powers to keep people safe in and around buildings, remove or reduce risks, and enable the long-term use or occupation of affected buildings.


The guide is in three parts.

A. How buildings are managed in an emergency and who is responsible:

  • Describes the purpose and scope of the guide and outlines responsibilities under the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan (section 1)

  • Provides an overview of the process for managing buildings in an emergency and during the recovery, roles and responsibilities for doing so, and resources needed to support this (section 2)

  • Outlines the core legislation for managing buildings in an emergency (section 3).

B. Preparing for and managing buildings in an emergency:

  • Readiness – steps for territorial authorities, including developing a building assessment plan, identifying key people, and checking training and resources (section 4)

  • Response – establishing and managing a rapid building assessment operation or carrying out other building checks as appropriate, placarding, cordoning, urgent works such stabilisation/demolition, seeking further information from building owners as necessary (section 5)

  • Recovery and risk reduction – monitoring damaged buildings, enabling repairs to remove or reduce risks and enable long-term use or occupation, removing placards/cordons, learning from the event and implementing changes (section 6).

C. Appendices

  • References and resources for managing buildings in an emergency, including readiness and response checklists.

Disclaimer: This document is a guide only. It should not be used as a substitute for legislation or legal advice. Under section 175(2) of the Building Act, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is not responsible for the results of any actions taken on the basis of information in this document, or for any errors or omissions.

Building Act powers for managing buildings in an emergency forms

More information

Further information and resources for managing buildings in an emergency

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: