News

Test case battle lines drawn

On 17 March there was a hearing in the District Court.  At issue was the WCC’s application to have a detailed seismic assessment (DSA), purportedly based on an American engineering standard, accepted as evidence for the Appeal of MBIE’s Determination ruling on the EPB status of 124 Wakefield St. This is unusual. An appeal should normally be argued on the…
Read more

MBIE’s response to the Christchurch Royal Commission’s recommendations on communicating earthquake risk

  On 13 February 2017, MBIE released their final report on the Christchurch Royal Commission’s recommendations.  In this update we examine the Commissions recommendations on communicating earthquake risk and make an assessment of MBIE’s actions. The Commision stated: In many cases, the building industry and the public don’t fully understand or appreciate the risk that some buildings pose in earthquakes,…
Read more

EBSS Press Release: Report shows MBIE intends to flout Supreme Court ruling on earthquake prone buildings

An EBSS report ‘Don’t mention the law’, on MBIE’s proposed regulations and methodology for identifying earthquake prone buildings, shows that the Chief Executive, David Smol, intends to flout a landmark Supreme Court decision. The law provides that the earthquake prone building test is against performance in a defined moderate earthquake. The Supreme Court, in a 2014 decision, ruled that the…
Read more

Test Case Update: Documents confirm Determination bias

On 5 June 2016 draft guidelines for the Seismic Assessment of Existing Buildings were released (available at eq-assess.org.nz). They will replace the NZSEE guidelines that have driven Wellington City Council’s seismic strengthening policy. At a high level the new guidelines are mostly just a rehash and justification of the original guidelines. The documents support our conclusion, if there were any…
Read more

The test case: MBIE gloats over building owners’ gullibility

The key proposition that is being contested in the test case is that the Wellington City Council did not apply the legal test for an earthquake=prone building.  To be an earthquake-prone building, the building must exceed its ultimate capacity and be likely to collapse in a moderate earthquake. The Council switched the ultimate capacity test to ultimate limit state, and ignored the…
Read more

Opening shot fired in test case war

For readers who have been following the test case through the Determination process it will come as no surprise that the Determination has been appealed to the District Court.   The appeal was filed in January and the process started with a case management conference, which was held on Friday 15 April.  The main outcome was that the parties would endeavour…
Read more

Seismic Policy, Wellington City Council Style (part 1)

Part  one: Compliance with the law As we head towards the Appeal of the Determination on the test case, our thoughts have turned anew to the way the Wellington City Council developed their seismic strengthening  policy. When we prepared our Determination submissions we reviewed the material  received under an Official Information Act request for the Wellington City Council’s seismic policy…
Read more

ACT Supplementary Order Papers

The Building Act (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill is now before Parliament for its second reading. The member for Epsom, David Seymour, has proposed two supplementary order papers that would amend the Bill in the following respects. SOP 152 exempts all buildings in low seismic risk areas (for example Auckland,Hamilton and Dunedin) from the provisions of the Act. SOP 156 introduces an exemption based…
Read more

The test case final determination: “I see nothiiinng”

Reading the final determination we were reminded of sergeant Schultz, the incompetent P.O.W. camp guard in the television comedy Hogan’s Heroes. Confronted with the most obvious breeches of the rules Shultz’s response is always “I see nothiiinng”. In the test case the MBIE Manager of determinations, John Gardiner, was faced with a compelling case that the Wellington City Council did…
Read more