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Wayne Brown wants new Government to review earthquake strengthening rules for the city

Author
Bernard Orsman,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 Nov 2023, 2:33PM
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown. Photo / Dean Purcell
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown. Photo / Dean Purcell

Wayne Brown wants new Government to review earthquake strengthening rules for the city

Author
Bernard Orsman,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 Nov 2023, 2:33PM

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown wants the new Government to review earthquake-strengthening rules, saying they make no sense in a region that has shown no signs of earthquake activity for 100,000 years.

Forcing seismic strengthening costs on building owners makes no sense at all, says Brown, a qualified civil engineer.

The Government insists that councils be prepared for natural hazards, said Brown, which makes sense for flooding where the council is spending big sums of money to save lives and property.

Mayor Wayne Brown says the council should be focused on flooding issues, not earthquakes.

Mayor Wayne Brown says the council should be focused on flooding issues, not earthquakes.

But in Auckland where “Wellington bureaucrats” are conveniently ignoring the risk of volcanoes, they are imposing financial stress on the owners of old buildings, the mayor said.

“A review of Auckland’s geology shows no signs of earthquake activity in the last 100,000 years but there are 40 volcanoes here, the oldest of which is 40,000 years, and the newest, Rangitoto is around 800 years.

“Our emergency teams should list volcanoes as a natural hazard and do some preparation based on what has happened in places like Iceland and Hawaii,” Brown said.

He said earthquake strengthening costs have become a big earner for consultants writing reports, preparing estimates of building resistance, proposed strengthening, and the “dreaded earthquake resistance rating”.

Rangitoto volcano is 800 years old. Photo / Bruce Hayward

Rangitoto volcano is 800 years old. Photo / Bruce Hayward

Brown said he is keen to stop spending in Auckland on seismic strengthening unless a building is likely to fall down, “in which nobody would be living there in the first place”.

Under the current law, owners of earthquake-risk buildings in Auckland have 35 years to strengthen buildings above 34 per cent of the new building standard.

Several council-owned buildings have required or undergone earthquake strengthening, including the Leys Institute in St Marys Bay, which was closed in 2019 for earthquake-related safety reasons; and the Domain Wintergardens, which reopened this year.

The Leys Institute in St Marys Bay has been closed since 2019 due to earthquake concerns. Photograph / Adele Krantz

The Leys Institute in St Marys Bay has been closed since 2019 due to earthquake concerns. Photograph / Adele Krantz

During the election, Brown released a Manifesto for Auckland, setting out the deal he wanted from the new Government.

It included returning the GST charged on Auckland Council rates, a nationally-funded solution to managed retreat, and empowering the council to implement congestion charging and set parking fines, but did not mention a review of earthquake strengthening rules.

The Herald is seeking comment from National on whether it thinks there is a need to review the rules for earthquake strengthening in Auckland.

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