Building inspections of high-rises in Auckland and Wellington show that most failed to meet earthquake standards to stop people being hit by falling objects.
The data, which was revealed in a 2016 survey released to Radio New Zealand by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (Mbie), examined 41 floors in 20 commercial buildings that were four storeys or higher, and less than 60 years old.
In Auckland, it showed a near 100 per cent fail rate of earthquake bracing of fire sprinklers and pipes, and a 73 per cent failure rate in Wellington.
The report, by engineers Kevin O'Connor and Associates (KOA), said 89 per cent of ceilings in both cities were poorly secured, as well as 85 per cent of partition walls.
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In both cities, all eight key parts of the buildings inspected failed key earthquake-related standards, and either had no or inadequate restraints.
In Auckland, 11 out of 12 fire systems were not restrained at all.
The report said Mbie should reconsider the assumption that as long as people hid under their desks they would be safe.
The survey was done to confirm anecdotal evidence since the earthquakes in 2011, 2013 and 2016 of widespread damage, especially to ceilings and sprinklers.