Building Earthquake Resilience

21 February 2012

One year on from the earthquake that rocked Christchurch on 22 February, New Zealanders are reflecting on the loss of lives and property the city suffered on that day, and how our country has changed over the past 12 months.

Earthquake-strengthening work at  Central Park Apartments in Te Aro

Earthquake-strengthening work at Central Park Apartments in Te Aro

Wellington is situated on the junction of the Australian and Pacific plates, and Wellingtonians have long been aware of the earthquake risk to our city.

The Council has been working for some years on strengthening our infrastructure and in the past year we've stepped up our work to make our city and our communities more resilient.

The Council owns over $6 billion worth of assets. Over the last 10 years, we've been targeting critical routes throughout the city and strengthening roads and bridges. We've also built new retaining walls designed to perform well in earthquakes.

Major strengthening work has already been carried out on Ngaio Gorge Road to secure an alternative route out of the city and future work is planned on Churchill Drive, the Hataitai bus tunnel and Seatoun and Northland tunnels.

Strengthening work is about to start on the Karori tunnel.

We continue to upgrade critical water mains - with works focused on the central city and Te Aro flat to ensure sufficient water can flow to and from a new reservoir that will be constructed in the next five years.

Work to upgrade reservoirs is underway across the city and will continue in coming years. This will mean we can retain as much water as possible within our larger reservoirs after an earthquake.

We are four years into upgrading all of our social housing properties. We have completed strengthening work at Hanson Court flats in Newtown and the strengthening work at Central Park Apartments in Te Aro is due for completion in August.

Our largest high rise property in Newtown is halfway through its upgrade and the project has seen significant progress in the last few months with tenants moving back into some of the upgraded blocks. All 40 Council housing properties have now been assessed.

We have been working through the list of the buildings we own to complete detailed structural assessments on those buildings which are potentially earthquake-prone.

Work on the Town Hall is planned. Initial work on the Municipal Office Building in Civic Square started last month. Further work is planned for 2014.

Earthquake strengthening is a big challenge for our city. There's a lot of work ahead to build a truly resilient city but we're making definite progress.

Last year, we introduced a new grant to build community resilience by supporting projects that build emergency preparedness in local neighbourhoods.

Grant funding is also available to owners of listed heritage properties to help fund building conservation plans.

Council staff are participating in an earthquake and tsunami training exercise at the end of March and we encourage all businesses to participate in the Pacific-wide Operation Shake Out in September.