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Aucklanders will learn next week which of the city's commercial buildings could collapse in a moderate earthquake.

The owners of 416 pre-1940 buildings on an "earthquake prone building register" in the old Auckland City Council area will be notified from today that the register will be made public next week.

Many of the 416 buildings are in old town centres built more than 100 years ago, such as Dominion Rd, Karangahape Rd, Kingsland, Sandringham Rd and Onehunga Mall.

The Auckland Council has previously refused to release the public register of mostly brick, unreinforced buildings, saying it was out of date and could affect property values.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown said the council was taking a "measured response" to the issue and asked officers in March to draw up a regionwide list of earthquake-prone buildings as quickly as possible.

About 5 per cent of commercial buildings and 2 per cent of residential structures in the city centre are unreinforced.

The Building Act defines earthquake-prone buildings as those likely to collapse in a moderate quake, causing injury or death, or damage to any other property.

Civil defence manager Clive Manley said yesterday that work had also begun to identify which buildings in the central business district and priority buildings, such as hospitals, were earthquake prone.

These buildings should be identified by the end of the year.

The council was assessing every building constructed before 1976, when changes to the Building Code were introduced that required building strengthening, he said.

Mr Manley said the council was also developing an earthquake prone and dangerous building policy, which was required under the Building Act.

It would review the current policy where pre-1976 buildings were required to be strengthened to 34 per cent of that currently required in the Building Act. The policy covers commercial buildings and residential buildings of two or more stories that contain three or more household units.

A draft policy would be considered by the regional development and operations committee in June before going out for public consultation.

"Public safety is our number-one priority and this council will be as prepared as we can be should the unthinkable happen," Mr Manley said.

A 2005 report produced by Geological and Nuclear Sciences for the Auckland City Council identified central Auckland's risk, at between 30km and 60km from the nearest faultline, as low.

The Auckland Council has asked GNS to review and update the 2005 report.

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye, who has been pushing for the register to be made public, welcomed the first cut of an Auckland-wide list being released and the possible review of standards relating to those building.