News | 14 July 2022
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How will our city respond? Making Wellington resilient and adaptable

This is the second of five major challenges facing the capital, as laid out in Wellington City Council’s Pre-Election Report for 2022. This report is produced every three years before the local body elections to provide information and promote public discussion about the issues facing the local authority.

Animates image showing houses, clouds and plants.

Our ever evolving natural environment means we are refocusing our resilience efforts for Wellington city.

In the last 10 years, Wellington City Council and private building owners have invested in improving the city’s building and infrastructure, making it more resilient to natural disasters, particularly earthquakes. 

The coming three years will see the Council increasing investment in adapting to climate change and supporting communities to plan what adaptation looks like for them. While increasing our investment focus on climate resilience, we will continue to support building owners adapt to central government building regulation requirements.

Responding and adapting to climate change is critically important for the resilience of our communities. This concerns everything from managing the impacts of climate change to actively reducing carbon emissions and waste. Wellingtonians will need to change how we live in and move around the city.


  • 52 percent of Wellingtonians consider sustainability and the environment when making choices about what they do, buy or use (QoL survey 2020)
  • 58 percent of Wellingtonians are worried or very worried about the impact of climate change and a further 32 percent are a little worried (QoL survey 2020)
  • 87 percent of residents feel safe in the event of a moderate earthquake at home, while 73 percent feel safe in the event of a moderate earthquake at work (RMS 2021)

Activity planned for the next three years

Many decisions have been made in the past three years concerning management of the city’s resilience and adaptation to climate change. The Council will continue to take action regarding seismic strengthening and climate action to ensure the future resilience of Wellington.

Seismic Resilience

As of June 2022, there are 598 buildings in Wellington City which are classified as earthquake prone. The timeframe for undertaking seismic work for most buildings in Wellington is 15 years, however, buildings that have been identified as priority buildings have 7-and-a-half years. Of the 598 earthquake prone buildings, 228 owners are required to complete seismic work by 2027. 

A significant level of construction activity would be required in the city to complete seismic strengthening, at a time when the building and construction sector is under cost and labour market pressures and will also be delivering multiple large, new infrastructure projects in the city. Over the coming term, the Council will continue to work with building owners to remediate their buildings by the required timeframes, with much of the seismic remediation work expected to be completed across the city by 2030.

Rendered image of Te Matapihi (Central Library).

The Council’ seismic strengthening programme will continue in earnest over the coming three years, including:

  • Completion of the Te Whare Whakarauika | Town Hall seismic strengthening project.
  • Review of seismic strengthening options for The Bond Store (home of Te Waka Huia o Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho | Wellington Museum).
  • Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui | Central Library remediation. The preliminary design process has recently been completed and illustrates how this facility will be future-proofed and bring vibrancy to our inner city. This is a significant project within the wider programme of redevelopment in Te Ngākau Civic Precinct.
  • The Council’s partnership with Willis Bond to develop a mixed commercial/ residential development and new proposed home of the national Music Centre is another anchor project in this precinct which will commence in the next triennium.
  • Work is taking place to lodge the resource consent for demolition of the Civic Administration Building – this is expected to be lodged in July 2022. The application to demolish the Municipal Office Building is expected to be lodged in the latter half of 2022.

    The Council will continue to advocate for a solution to how the city manages risk (particularly seismic risk), with a better balance of transfer, mitigation, acceptance and avoidance of risk being needed. Although a number of buildings continue to be affected by seismic resilience issues in Wellington, the city has the lowest vacancy rates of commercial buildings in New Zealand, indicating that business are confident about being located in Wellington. 

    Climate Action

    The Council has a crucial role in making the changes our city needs to tackle climate change and will be supporting Wellingtonians to adjust and take climate action by living and moving around the city differently – a net-zero carbon city requires the support of our community. 

    The Council will begin implementing much of the climate change planning undertaken in recent years, including:

    • Making it easier and safer to walk, bike and take public transport through programmes of work like LGWM and the Paneke Pōneke Bike Network Plan.
    • Supporting households and businesses to reduce their impacts.
    • Enabling a greater supply of high-density housing.

    Waste-free City

    We will action waste minimisation solutions:

    • Updating the Wellington Region Waste Management and Minimisation Plan – the strategic framework for managing waste in the Wellington region.
    • A wider review of our kerbside services.
    • Build and operationalise the new Moa Point sludge minimisation facility.
    • Finalise the design and then proceed with the resource consent application process for the Southern Landfill extension.
    • Updating the Wellington Region Waste Management and Minimisation Plan – the strategic framework for managing waste in the Wellington region.
    • A wider review of our kerbside services.

    Read the full Pre-Election Report