New Zealand is very prone to earthquakes, due to its’ location on the edge of a zone of intense seismic activity known as the Ring of Fire. Small earthquakes are recorded on a nearly daily basis, on a belt stretching from Fiordland to East Cape and the Bay of Plenty.
The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 was introduced to identify the way earthquake-prone buildings are managed under the Building Act. It uses knowledge learned from past earthquakes in New Zealand and overseas. The focus in the Building Act is to minimize human injury and improve on people’s safety in the case of earthquakes.
Early on, construction in New Zealand consisted mostly of small residential builds, where earthquake risks were manageable. In the last century however, buildings have grown considerably taller and the quantity of glass has significantly increased in building designs, as people expect light and airy spaces.
Modern new-builds are designed to fill the requirements, but the vast number of buildings that were built before the standards were established, are not earthquake proofed.