Earthquake Prone Building Information

New Zealand has a relatively high earthquake risk so it is important for safety reasons that buildings are built or upgraded to be safe in an earthquake.


List of Earthquake Prone Buildings

Earthquake-prone buildings in Nelson and throughout New Zealand can be viewed on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s EPB Register website.


The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 came into effect on 1 July 2017, amending the Building Act 2004. This overrides and replaces the earthquake-prone provisions of Councils Earthquake Prone Building Policy 2006.

An overview and detail of the new regime is available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Building Performance website.

Priority Buildings

Priority buildings are certain types of building that are considered to present a higher risk because of their use, location or construction type.  They need to be identified and remediated within half of the time allowed for other buildings.

Priority buildings include those associated with:

  • hospitals,
  • emergency response services,
  • schools,
  • unreinforced masonry that could fall on busy thoroughfares and
  • those that could impede transport routes of strategic importance in terms of an emergency response after an earthquake.

Council’s Environment Committee considered submissions received on a proposal for thoroughfares and routes for the latter two types of priority building after public consultation held in October 2019.  The Committee approved the thoroughfares and routes on 5 March 2020.  These can be downloaded as a PDF (5.7MB PDF).


In terms of the Act, Nelson City is a medium seismic risk area.
Nelson City Council (NCC) must meet set timeframes to identify buildings that have certain characteristics, known as profile categories, as either potentially earthquake-prone or not. The timeframes are:

  • 5 years (expiring 30 June 2022) to identify priority buildings and parts of buildings that are potentially earthquake prone.
  • 10 years (expiring 30 June 2027) to identify other buildings and parts of buildings that are potentially earthquake prone.

Building owners will have 1 year, extendable on application to 2 years, after being advised by NCC that their building is potentially earthquake-prone, to provide an engineering assessment.

If an earthquake-prone building (EPB) Notice is issued:

  • Owners of priority buildings will have 12.5 years from the date of the Notice to complete seismic work.  
  • Owners of other buildings will have 25 years to complete seismic work.
  • Old Notices, issued prior to 1 July 2017, will be reissued with deadline dates based on the original Notice, but limited to the above maximum timeframes.  If the old timeframe is less than those above, then owners can apply to have the timeframe extended.
  • Owners of earthquake prone buildings can apply for an exemption from the requirement to carry out seismic work.
  • Owners of certain heritage buildings can apply for an extension of time to complete seismic work.

Worksafe New Zealand Position Statement

Worksafe New Zealand have issued a position statement dealing with earthquake-related hazards that is directed at employers, owners of workplace buildings and their advisers (such as engineers).

Heritage EQUIP Fund

Funding is available to support earthquake strengthening of earthquake-prone heritage buildings. For more information see our Earthquake Prone Heritage Buildings page.

Find out more