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


21 June 2012


Quakes Royal Commission Releases Discussion Papers

The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission today released two discussion papers seeking further information and comment on matters it is planning to hold hearings on in September.

Building management after earthquakes is examined in one paper, while the other looks at the training and regulation of the engineering profession.

Executive Director of the Royal Commission, Justine Gilliland, said the papers are based on submissions and hearings to date, and take the discussion the next step forward.

“These discussion papers address two key aspects of how we manage buildings in New Zealand in relation to earthquakes: how were buildings managed in Christchurch after the September 2010 earthquake? What problems arose? How well understood were the red, yellow and green placards that were placed on buildings? Are engineers in New Zealand receiving the right levels of training, guidance and regulation?" said Ms Gilliland.

The Royal Commission is tasked with examining building performance in the Canterbury earthquakes, and drawing lessons for the future. It is required to look at central business districts, leading to a focus on commercial buildings.

“We are trying to identify and avoid or mitigate problems that could happen in another earthquake. There are often trade offs between competing goals, like keeping people out of unsafe buildings using cordons and getting businesses open again, or balancing having absolute certainty of safety with cost, and with the frequency of earthquakes." 

The discussions papers are available on the Commission’s website. Submissions close on 27 July 2012.


Further information about the discussion papers:

1. Building Management After Earthquakes

  • The paper focuses on matters that may have led to problems in how the building safety operation was carried out that would be likely to happen again (i.e. problems with the system, rather than whether it was done well or not).
  • The paper does not address every issue people have identified in submissions or reports to the Commission to date.  These will be addressed in our final report.
  • The paper focuses on how we can improve things using a range of tools – not just legislation. 

2. Engineering profession

  • Three topics are covered: (1) education of engineers; (2) training and in particular requirements for developing competence towards registering as a Chartered Professional Engineer; and (3) the role played by engineering professional societies.
  • The paper discusses the way in which engineers achieve competency through continuing professional development, as well as training engineers in emergency management practices.
  • The way in which professional societies contribute to the engineering profession through research and sponsorship of research, communication and dissemination of information and knowledge among members, provision of education opportunities, and debate of relevant issues. 

Media contact

Robin Major
Senior Communications Advisor
Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission
Phone 021 621 656 or 03 741 3004