New Zealand's biggest retirement business evacuated 41 elderly residents from one of its Wellington villages after Monday's earthquake.

Simon Challies, Ryman Healthcare managing director and chief executive, told a half-year analyst and media results briefing in Auckland this morning that residents from the Malvina Major Retirement Village in the Johnsonville/Khandallah area were evacuated to Petone's Bob Scott Retirement Village and were staying there in the meantime.

David Kerr, Ryman chairman, described what had happened.

"There was uncertainty about one end of the apartment building so we're just being cautious. We decided there was no scope for taking risks. It will take weeks," Kerr said of the testing programme.


The Petone village where the 41 residents were now staying was built on base isolating units which had performed well and according to expectations, Kerr said.

Challies said inquiries were made into whether the Malvina Major apartment structure had been compromised and was able to accommodate people. Residents had been evacuated throughout Monday and Tuesday this week, he said.

Analysts asked about the financial impact.

"We won't know for a couple of weeks," Challies said "but it's not significant in terms of our financial position but very significant to our residents who had to be evacuated at very short notice."

Gordon MacLeod, Ryman deputy chief executive and chief financial officer, said only a small portion of the portfolio - with about 9000 independent living units and care beds valued at about $4.4 billion - was affected.

"It's early days in assessing what's needed but the building is insured. The most important impact has been on the residents. But it's not going to be material to the financial position of Ryman," MacLeod said.