Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission Te Komihana Rūwhenua o Waitaha Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission – Te Komihana Rūwhenua o Waitaha

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 that resulted in loss of life.
Chair, Justice Mark Cooper

Building Management After Earthquakes Hearing

On 3 and 4 September 2012, the Royal Commission conducted a public hearing looking at how New Zealand should manage buildings after earthquakes.  This hearing considered how we should do this when we respond immediately after the disaster and also when moving from response into recovery.  It looked at the building safety evalution (stickering) operations after the Canterbury earthquakes and what New Zealand can do to improve the system in the future.

The hearing provided the opportunity for debate about what the goals and objectives of building management after earthquakes should be.  This was part of a wider discussion about who is responsible for the building safety evaluation process, both for developing it and in practice after a disaster.  The hearing discussed how to manage buildings, given the need to prioritise how this should happen when numbers of buildings are damaged.  It will also looked at who should carry out evaluations, what methods these evaluators should use, and how to ensure that these evaluators have the right skill sets while balancing the need to plan for a situation that occurs infrequently.

Participants included academics, senior practising engineers and professional engineering societies.


Date Time 



3 September 10am Mark Zarifeh, Counsel Assisting the Commission Opening statement
10.20am Dave Brunsdon, Director, Kestrel Group.  New Zealand's building safety evaluation process and how it was implemented in the Canterbury earthquakes
11.30am BREAK
11.45am Dave Brunsdon (continued)

Bret Lizundia from the US (video conference)

Peer review  of Mr Brunsdon's presentation and the issues highlighted





Bret Lizundia (continued) 



Ken Gledhill of GNS

Developments in operational modelling and communication that could assist the Council, building owners and occupants following an earthquake 




4 September 9.30am

Expert panel:

  • Dave Brunsdon
  • Peter Smith, New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineers
  • Mike Stannard, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
  • Peter Mitchell, General Manager Regulation and Democracy Services, Christchurch City Council
  • Steve McCarthy, Environmental Policy and Approvals Manager, Christchurch City Council
  • John Hamilton and Peter Wood of the Ministry of Civil Defence Emergency Management
  • John Hare, Structural Engineering Society (SESOC)
  • Esther Newman, former Emergency Management Advisor, Christchurch City Council
  • Tony Sewell, Property Council
  • Richard Toner, Chief Building Officer, Wellington City Council


  • Goals and objectives for building management after earthquakes
  • The assessment process
  • Capabilities
  • Framework for the management of buildings after earthquakes
  • Follow up
  • Barriers to action to repair/rebuild/remove damaged buildings
  • Cordons
  • Issues with implementation




Panel discussion (continued) 






Panel discussion