London's Grenfell Tower disaster and the role its aluminium cladding played in the spread of fire has ignited concerns in New Zealand about which apartment towers have similar cladding.

Sean Marshall, managing director of property and construction industry consultants Prendos, questioned how safe some high-rise residential towers are here.

"There is a risk in New Zealand and it is certainly something to be aware of. New Zealand is not cut off from the rest of the world and a lot of product used in construction is brought in from overseas," Marshall said.

"Aluminium composite panels (ACP) are available in New Zealand and if you walk around Auckland CBD you can see many examples.


"This is not to say that they are non-compliant. We do not know. The risk is that there are many types of ACP, some are fire resistant and some are not. We do not know the specific panel type used in London and while it does appear from news footage that fire spread was due to the cladding type, this has to still to be investigated," Marshall said.

Nick Smith, Building and Construction Minister, said on Thursday that flammable aluminium cladding had only been banned from multi-storey buildings in New Zealand earlier this year, following high-rise fires in Dubai and Melbourne.

"I am advised that these systems are not prevalent in New Zealand," Smith said last week.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is contacting councils to check whether any high-rise buildings have been constructed with the panels, he said.

Prendos' Marshall is worried about claddings which do not meet regulations.

"One of the issues that is prevalent in construction is product substitution and this could potentially see the use of a non-compliant panel that looks the same as a compliant panel but has a different core material.

"This could be brought about due to cost differential. Another aspect that could see this problem potentially occur is through generic product specification, for example not actually specifying a fire grade aluminium composite panel," Marshall said.