Government to carefully consider Royal Commission report

Monday 10 December 2012, 3:15PM
By Maurice Williamson

The Government will carefully consider the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission’s full report and its recommendations, Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson and Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson say.

The third and final part of the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission’s report (Volumes 5-7) into the causes of building failures during the earthquake was publicly released by the Government today.

“The last three volumes contain 83 recommendations.  In total, the Royal Commission has made 189 recommendations across its full report,” Mr Finlayson says.

“The Royal Commission’s report has potentially wide-ranging implications for the entire country, not just Christchurch and the Canterbury region.

“Yesterday we travelled to Christchurch and met around 50 family members and loved ones of those who died during the earthquake. This was a valuable opportunity to update the families on the Government’s next steps regarding the Royal Commission’s report and its recommendations. Understandably, many of them are still struggling to come to terms with their loss.

“We want, and need, to take the time to carefully consider the report and its recommendations. Lessons must be learnt from the Christchurch experience and we owe it to the victims, and their loved ones left behind, to get the response right,” Mr Finlayson says.

Mr Williamson says the Government will carefully consider the 119 recommendations made in Volume 4 (released last week) and Volumes 5-7, many of which will require policy and legislative changes.

“Many of the recommendations are also very technical in nature and the Government expects to deliver a full and comprehensive response to the Royal Commission’s report by early- to mid-next year.

Volume 7 of the Royal Commission’s report makes a number of recommendations to improve the building safety evaluation system following disasters, particularly around the rapid assessment process and the placarding system. These include establishing a core team of building safety evaluators and a training programme, as well as developing detailed guidelines for these evaluations.

“Overall it found New Zealand was very well served by those who participated in the building safety evaluation operations in Canterbury, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider making improvements to the system,” Mr Williamson says.

The Royal Commission also proposes there be an ethical obligation on the engineering profession to advise the relevant local authority and the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) about structural weaknesses discovered in buildings.

“Another section of the report recommends establishing a new category of engineers called Recognised Structural Engineers, who would be responsible for certifying the design of complex buildings,” Mr Williamson says.

“The Royal Commission report also states the Resource Management Act should more explicitly acknowledge the potential effects of earthquakes and liquefaction, and makes recommendations around these factors.

“This highlights the breadth and complexity of the recommendations the Royal Commission have made, which is why we need to take time to consider them.

“In the meantime, the Government is consulting on proposals to improve the earthquake-prone buildings policy system.  We invite all New Zealanders to make a submission and have their say in this process,” Mr Williamson says.

Volumes 1-3 of the Royal Commission’s report, which cover a range of technical engineering issues that will inform decision-making on rebuilding and repair work in greater Christchurch, were delivered to the Government on 29 June 2012 and publicly released on 23 August 2012. The Government accepted all 70 recommendations contained in those first three volumes.

Volume 4 of the report, which addresses a range of practice and policy issues relating to earthquake-prone buildings, was delivered to the Government on 10 October 2012 and publicly released on Friday 7 December. It was released along with the consultation document on ways to improve the earthquake-prone buildings policy system in New Zealand.

Volume 5-7 was received by the Government on 29 November 2012 and publicly released today.

To view Volumes 5-7 of the Royal Commission’s final report visit: