Earthquakes and other natural disasters

Earthquakes have rocked different parts of New Zealand, causing damage to buildings and owners may be looking for some advice and support about what steps to take.

Catholic Basilica, Christchurch
The Catholica Basilica in Christchurch, February 2011.  Image: Heritage New Zealandexpand/collapse

Heritage New Zealand works with local authorities in the affected area to assess damage to historic places.  Where possibly, it will contact owners of registered historic places to offer advice and support.

If damage has occurred you may want to seek the advice of an engineer or other building professional.

You are best advised to contact professional associations (pdf) for advice on contacting tradespeople, and other professionals near you. This link includes information compiled for the original Canterbury earthquake response, but applies equally to other similar events.

Owners of historic places on the List may contact their nearest Heritage New Zealand office for information.

Is my place on the New Zealand Heritage List?

Check whether a place is on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero using the List Online.

A heritage building may also be scheduled in the district plan, check your local council's website for the district plan heritage schedule.

If my heritage building is damaged, what is the process?

  1. Take photographs and document all actions, such as general tidying, cleaning, clearing debris, etc
  2. Make weathertight to avoid further damage and costs. Keep materials stored on site where possible.
  3. If there is damage, a claim should be lodged with the Earthquake Commission. If it is a commercial building, lodge a claim with your insurance company because EQC does not cover commercial buildings.
  4. In making a claim to the EQC or your insurance company, you should state that the building is a heritage building and, if required, request an engineering assessment.
  5. The EQC or your insurance company will appoint a representative, normally a Registered Valuer or Loss Adjuster to value the damage and obtain an estimate of repair costs. The EQC will also obtain a structural engineering assessment of your property if damage is severe.
  6. Heritage New Zealand and the relevant Council should receive a copy of the structural engineering assessment and have the opportunity to discuss with the owner and EQC representative options for appropriate repair and/or reconstruction.

If you directly engage a structural engineer or other service (i.e. builder) please keep all records and documentation (especially receipts) for the purposes of any EQC/insurance claim.

Making damaged buildings safe

Further information on making damaged buildings safe after an earthquake and planning for repair and restoration is available in the following information sheets

The Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act and the protection of archaeological sites

Do you own a pre-1900 building which has been damaged by an earthquake or its aftershocks?

Under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, New Zealand’s pre-1900 sites – including buildings – are considered to be archaeological sites. Section 40 of the Act directs that an archaeological authority is required from Heritage New Zealand if an archaeological site (recorded or unrecorded) may be modified, damaged or destroyed in the course of any activity.

If you need any help, just get in touch and we'll take you through this process.

Magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura Earthquake 2016

Special procedures are in place for archaeological authorities in Canterbury (including Kaikoura), Marlborough and Wellington. Information on these procedures can be found here.