Tell us a bit about your team
Hayley: The Christchurch earthquake of 22 February 2011, where 185 people tragically lost their lives, was a stark reminder to Wellingtonians of the power of mother nature and brought into question the resilience of Wellington’s buildings. Earthquakes themselves don’t cause tragedy; it’s falling buildings and pieces of buildings that cause harm.
Here in Wellington, we know for sure that we are going to have a big earthquake – we just don’t know when.
Wellington City Council had an active Earthquake-prone Building Policy in place from 2006, however in response to the Christchurch Earthquake a new, small but dedicated Resilient Buildings Team was created to ramp up our efforts in assessing the city’s buildings. Our team has grown to now include myself and five Technical Advisors.
For an earthquake centred on Wellington, scientists tell us to expect hundreds of people to be killed or injured by falling buildings. Most people realise this and reluctantly or subconsciously accept this as a risk of living in Wellington. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The Government has given us some regulatory tools and my team is responsible for implementing the earthquake-prone building legislation and doing everything we can to minimise the tragic consequences of an earthquake. We work with building owners and their structural engineers to determine a building’s earthquake-prone status – ultimately working towards a safer and more resilient city.