Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Rotorua's 34 earthquake-prone buildings

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The Rotorua Museum has been closed due to earthquake damage. Photo/Stephen Parker
The Rotorua Museum has been closed due to earthquake damage. Photo/Stephen Parker

There are 34 buildings in Rotorua that have been deemed "earthquake prone" - and about 1200 more have been assessed as being an earthquake risk.

Last Friday, the iconic Rotorua Museum was closed as a precaution after new cracks were discovered following the Kaikoura earthquake. It is not known when the museum will reopen.

Rotorua Lakes Council keeps a register of buildings in the district that have been deemed as either earthquake prone or an earthquake risk. The majority of those buildings were built before changes to the building code in 1976, when new rules around seismic strengthening came into force.

The council's Earthquake-prone Buildings Policy was adopted in 2009 and applies to all buildings except residential, unless the residential building is two or more storeys high and contains three or more household units.

It requires buildings assessed as earthquake prone - that are less than one-third of new building standard - are addressed within a certain timeframe.

Council buildings solutions manager Darryl Holder said all buildings built before 1976 were automatically deemed an earthquake risk, but were not necessarily earthquake prone.

He said under the current legislation any building under 67 per cent of the building standard was deemed an earthquake risk and under 33 per cent was earthquake prone.

Depending on the results of engineers' reports, property owners with earthquake-prone buildings were given five, 10 or 15 years to either undertake strengthening work or demolish them.

The amount of time depended on the level of risk.

However, the council doesn't have the power to compel building owners to take action.

He said the new Building Amendment Act 2016, which introduces a new system for managing earthquake-prone buildings, was likely to see a drop in the number of Rotorua buildings for which further assessments have been requested.

He said buildings that housed a lot of people, such as hotels or hospitals, were a higher risk during earthquakes.

But, he said one problem was there were not enough structural engineers in New Zealand to cope with demand.

Rotorua property developer Ray Cook said he had not had any issues - "most of our stuff is relatively new and built to code and any existing properties have been brought up the recommended rating".

But, he said after what happened in Wellington after the Kaikoura earthquakes the Government may have to have another rethink.

"In Rotorua we don't have those high-level buildings, and all of the new stuff will be up to standard.

"We upgraded about six buildings in Rotorua and they are all treated differently according to the initial design of the building, for example we treated the Quest building with Kevlar, but they are all different."

A Rotorua property owner who owns a building on the earthquake-prone list, who did not want to be named, said he thought the law was hard to understand.

"The law is pretty confusing, only because you hear so many conflicting views about it."

He said he had followed the council's instructions and had an engineer's report verify his property was earthquake prone. He was given 10 years from the start of this year to have it brought up to code.

"I've heard of assessments being done by two different engineering firms and getting two different results."

He said he was not going to spend upwards of $100,000 only to be told it was not required.

"Then you only have to look at Wellington after the last quake where all those new buildings were damaged.

"Why spend a lot of money when the law will change again?" he said.

Ross Stanway, chief executive of Realty Services, which operates Bayleys and Eves, said until there was certainty regarding legislation, building owners would not know the extent of work they may have to do to bring buildings up to standard.

"In the commercial arena there are still buildings being bought and sold and buyers and sellers take account that there are no clear guidelines and those costs are being factored into the marketplace."

But, he said that was not stopping anyone from buying buildings that may not be up to the current standard.

Rotorua's earthquake-prone buildings:


• 1266 Tarawera Rd, ​RLC/Rotorua Water Ski Club
• 2 Brookland Rd, ​Brookland shops
• 82 Clayton Rd, Pet Shop
• 1190 Eruera St​
• 1127 Haupapa St, ​Rotorua Public Library
• 6 Tally Ho St
• Tutanekai St, ​Stevens retail shop
• 1234 Tutanekai St, ​Millers Fashion Club
• 1211 Fenton St, Arahia Academy building
• 773 Hamurana Rd, ​Hamurana Golf Lodge
• 39 Biak St, ​Living Well Church
• ​1272 Fenton St, Family Start
• 1131 Fenton St, ​Masonic Hall
• 1072 Haupapa St,​ Rotorua RSA
• Waipa State Mill Rd, Fitters workshop
• Waipa State Mill Rd, ​CCA treatment Plant
• ​22 Beaumont St, ​Rotorua Family Holiday Park (Recreation Room)
• 66 Clayton Rd, ​Petrol station/workshop
• 62 Clayton Rd, ​Petrol station/workshop
• 62 Clayton Rd, ​Petrol station/workshop
• 292 Te Ngae Rd​
• 2 Otonga Rd, ​Hot Food Takeaway
• ​381 Te Ngae Rd​
• 19 to 21 Riri St​
• 1 Mount View Dr​
• 1194 Tutanekai St, ​Denim Zone/The Outlet Shop
• 1192 Tutanekai St ​Denim Zone/The Outlet Shop
• 1114 Haupapa St​
• 1149 Tutanekai St
• 1211to 1215 Tutanekai St, ​Central Chambers Building
• 1271 Ranolf St, ​Kuirau Park Motor Lodge
• 1264 Hinemoa St, ​Ajay's Emporium
• ​174 Lake Rd,​ Mico Plumbing Showroom
• 1188 Tutanekai St, ​Lucky Lotto Shop
Source: Rotorua Lakes Council. www.rotorualakescouncil.nz

- Rotorua Daily Post

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