Resilient buildings project

Evaluating societal expectations for future seismic building performance in New Zealand
While Aotearoa New Zealand has gone through unprecedented losses from seismic activity, our understanding and knowledge around seismic hazards has advanced, highlighting shortcomings in the seismic settings of our building regime.
This research is a first step towards understanding and confirming what New Zealanders want regarding the seismic performance of buildings, providing insight into the changes and decisions the country needs to make regarding our seismic engineering and building practices, and the current regulatory regime.
About the research

In this project, we have taken a fresh look at the underpinning assumptions of NZ’s seismic performance objectives. Through interviews and focus groups, we have used a wellbeing / multi-capital framework to explore people's expectations of building performance during and after an earthquake.

The research is about New Zealand buildings being resilient and fit for the future. It is one piece in a journey to understand and inform priorities for improving the resilience of our communities.

Key findings

A research report on “Societal expectations for seismic performance of buildings” has now published.

Our snapshot of societal expectations found:


  1. Safety is non-negotiable.
  2. People are expecting more from buildings than that they just stay up after earthquakes. Social and economic recovery are also important objectives.
  3. Speed of recovery is a particular priority for some building types (e.g., marae, community centres, homes) which are currently not prioritised.
  4. The appetite for risk and expectations of buildings’ seismic performance varies significantly among those surveyed.
Project team
  • Charlotte Brown, Resilient Organisations Ltd
  • Helen Ferner, NZSEE
  • Hugh Cowan
  • Shannon Abeling, University of Auckland
  • Sophie Horsfall, Resilient Organisations Ltd

This project has been funded by NZSEE and EQC.


For more information please contact:

Charlotte Brown
+64 (0)21 142 5420
[email protected]

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