25 May 2011
Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission work underway
The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Building Failure Caused by the Canterbury Earthquakes is well underway. Commissioners are on the ground in Christchurch and have been meeting with earthquake scientists, building experts and the City Council.
The Royal Commission is chaired by Justice Mark Cooper. His fellow commissioners are Sir Ron Carter and Assoc. Professor Richard Fenwick.
Justice Cooper says the Commission is advancing its information gathering programme and establishing its structures and processes for the duration of the Inquiry. “We are in the process of establishing connections with respected international and New Zealand experts who will provide professional advice on issues relevant to the Inquiry.”
“At the appropriate time we will also be seeking information from the public about their experiences during the earthquakes and building safety issues.
He says the Commission has visited the ‘Red Zone’ twice. “The first visit provided the Commission with an early first-hand perspective of the scale and extent of the destruction in the affected area. Our second visit yesterday focused on an initial identification of potential buildings that we will look at more closely as part of the ‘representative sample’ required by our terms of reference.
“Meanwhile the Commission will be setting out details of its programme in the coming weeks. We will be calling for Expressions of Interest and announcing plans for hearings.
“The Commission recognises the high public interest in its work from New Zealand and overseas and for this reason I am committed to ensuring that we operate as openly and transparently as possible,” says Justice Cooper.
The Royal Commission’s terms of reference relate to the area bounded by the four avenues and requires it to examine:
- why four specified buildings failed severely; and
- why the failure of these buildings caused such extensive injury and death: and
- why certain buildings failed severely while others failed less severely or there was no readily perceptible failure.
The Inquiry will also consider legal and best practice requirements for the design, construction and maintenance of buildings in New Zealand central business districts.
“Those who lost relatives and friends in the 22 February earthquake can be assured that there will be a very thorough inquiry into the failure of buildings in the central city that resulted in loss of life,” says Justice Cooper.
The Royal Commission operates independently of government but receives administrative assistance from the Department of Internal Affairs. Information about the Commission of Inquiry, including the full terms of reference can be found at http://canterbury.royalcommission.govt.nz/
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