The Reserve Bank is vacating its Wellington building after new evidence of asbestos traces were detected in a lift.

In May the 14-storey building on the corner of The Terrace and Bowen St was closed and workers sent home after the asbestos was discovered.

The asbestos on level one had been remediated and results had been clear on all levels where air-quality testing had been completed - until yesterday.

"The final straw was yesterday when a trace amount of airborne asbestos was detected in one floor's lift foyer. The amount detected is low risk but the health and safety of all building occupants is our priority. The floor – level 6 - was vacated immediately," the bank said in a statement.


"As a responsible employer and landlord, the Reserve Bank has decided to close the building so we can address the issue comprehensively," Governor Adrian Orr said.

"We will move to other premises until all necessary remedial action has been taken. I apologise for the inconvenience to tenants, staff and customers of affected organisations. I congratulate my team for being so organised and effective."

The process is expected to take about three months.

The bank's currency, payments and settlements, and markets operations are not affected.

The decision comes after ongoing asbestos remediation was proving too complex and disruptive.

Until yesterday, ongoing air monitoring in the Reserve Bank building showed that the level of respirable asbestos fibres was below trace level, meaning that the building was safe for occupation.

The ground and basement levels will remain occupied and in use. The way that those levels were built is different than the office block above, meaning they are safe.

"We expect to move back into the building after three months, when building-wide remediation work is finished and safety tests have been completed and signed off by specialist asbestos firm Major Consulting Group," Orr said.

We are supporting tenants in the building as they make arrangements for temporary accommodation. They are the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Parliamentary Counsel Office, State Services Commission and NZ Defence Force.