Thousands of people who work in two huge Wellington buildings can't get in this morning because of earthquake damage.

Scott Pritchard, chief executive of Precinct Properties which owns 1-3 The Terrace and Pastoral House at 25 The Terrace, said his staff had discovered problems and engineers were being engaged to undertake full assessments.

"So far, since first light and with external access only, it looks like there's some superficial damage but nothing severe at 1-3 The Terrace and Pastoral House. But it's too early to tell yet whether there's any more damage so Holmes Consulting - our engineers - will be undertaking assessments.

Earthquake damage has been found at Pastoral House between The Terrace and Lambton Quay
Earthquake damage has been found at Pastoral House between The Terrace and Lambton Quay

"We've advised no one to go into the buildings until we find out if there's any further damage. Last time, in 2007 when there were earthquakes in Wellington, it took two days to do full assessments," Pritchard said.

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The tower at 1-3 The Terrace on the Bowen St corner has 16 levels of open plan offices and a mezzanine floor. It stands opposite the Beehive, Parliament and the Reserve Bank. Pastoral House is 17 levels and Precinct says both blocks are fully leased.

Pritchard said "thousands" of people worked in the blocks and his company was now undertaking assessments of the rest of its portfolio including 157 Lambton Quay, Mayfair House, State Insurance and Deloitte House.

"We need to get around all the buildings externally first, understanding whether there's any risk, any damage and then undertake assessments. So far what we're finding is that the damage is minor but it's too early to tell if it's more significant damage," Pritchard said.

Precinct has 300 tenants throughout New Zealand and owns properties valued at $1.55 billion. It is listed on the NZX and has about 7800 shareholders.