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MDC to work with earthquake-prone building owners

The building control team of Masterton District Council [MDC] has initiated a project to “proactively work with the owners of earthquake-prone buildings” in the district.

The purpose of the project is to ascertain whether the owners of these buildings are willing to undertake seismic strengthening works and what barriers might be stopping them from doing so.

Liaising with the owners will help MDC understand how many buildings are likely to be fixed and how many will remain a risk to the public and therefore require an intervention.

A register of earthquake-prone buildings from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment [MBIE] shows that Masterton has 16 buildings with an earthquake rating between 20 and 35 per cent, as well as 17 buildings with a rating between zero and 20 per cent.

“We start meeting building owners at the beginning of April 2024,” an MDC spokesperson said.

“We are providing owners with a copy of their property file and a copy of the MBIE guidance.

“We are highlighting the possible options as outlined in the Building Act.”

Those options are to strengthen the buildings within the required time frame, demolish the building to remove the danger, or take action to prevent access to the whole building or its earthquake-prone elements.

The spokesperson said that while the process will start in April, there is no definitive end date.

“We will be working with the business based on the date their seismic work needs to be completed.”

“We will most likely prioritise business with the earliest deadlines.”

Of the buildings with a rating between 20 and 35 per cent, the earliest deadline for completing seismic work is 2029, while the latest is 2038.

The deadlines for most of the buildings with a zero to 20 per cent rating fall between 2031 and 2038.

However, two of the buildings need to be completed by late February 2026 – the Masterton Municipal Building at 64 Chapel St, and the Shoe Clinic at 207 Queen St.

The seismic rating is arrived at by comparing the old building to a newer one of a similar design that’s been built to current earthquake strengthening regulations.

If the old building has a rating in the zero to 20 per cent range, it is roughly 25 times more likely to collapse in an earthquake than a similar new building.

If it has a rating in the 20 to 34 per cent range, it is only 10 to 15 times more likely to collapse than a similar new building.

Buildings rated over 34 per cent may have some risk but do not need any compulsory work under the Building Act.

Masterton Mayor Gary Caffell said that while the MDC initiative will be helpful for business owners, central government could make some changes to make the process easier.

“At the moment, it’s been dumped on the council to deal with earthquake legislation,” he said.

“We want rules and legislation to change to make it less complicated for council and business owners.

“Also, I think business owners will struggle to do the repairs due to cost, and I don’t want to see lots of empty buildings in Masterton, so I think there could be a benefit in having some funding to help complete works.”

While MDC will be contacting the business owners to work through solutions, Caffell also advised them to proactively contact the council with any questions or concerns.

Buildings in Masterton and their risk rating 

Earthquake-prone buildings as per a Ministry of Business and Innovation register.
Buildings in Masterton that have a zero to 20 per cent seismic risk rating. Listed here is the name given as per the registry, its location, and the deadline for completing seismic work.

  • Reformed Church of Masterton, 37 Herbert St, [08 December 2038].
  • Ordish & Stevens, 219 High St, [13 October 2038].
  • Milady Building, 162 Queen St, [05 March 2031].
  • Mobility Wairarapa, 6 Renall St, [22 June 2038].
  • Simonsen & Yardley, 15 Hope St, [12 October 2037].
  • MY RIDE, 45 Chapel St, [14 April 2037].
  • Pet Shop, 126 Dixon St, [01 December 2035].
  • AAA Parts World, 148 Dixon St, [01 December 2035].
  • Yard Office, 107 Ngaumutawa Rd, [01 December 2035].
  • Yard Factory, 107 Ngaumutawa Rd, [01 December 2035].
  • Donald Press Building, 31 Perry St, [01 December 2035].
  • Bridgestone, 361 Queen St, [01 December 2035].
  • The Boat Shed and Autos, 42 Bannister St, [01 December 2035].
  • Heat Shop, 4 Chapel St, [01 December 2035].
  • Masterton Miniature Rifle Club,14 Cole St, [01 December 2035].
  • Shoe Clinic, 207 Queen St, [27 February 2026].
  • Masterton Municipal Buildings, 64 Chapel St, [26 February 2026].

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