Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission Reports

Gerry Brownlee Canterbury Earthquake Recovery

Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission Reports

In the wake of the destructive earthquakes in Canterbury and the tragic loss of 185 lives in the Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011, the Government established a Royal Commission of Inquiry in May 2011.

Of the 185 fatalities that occurred due to the earthquake in Christchurch on 22 February 2011, 175 were due to failures of buildings or parts of buildings.  The Royal Commission was given terms of reference to examine issues around the built environment in the Christchurch CBD, as well as the adequacy of the relevant building codes and standards across New Zealand for the future.

The Royal Commission has reported back in seven volumes, which have been received by the Government.  The Government expects to issue a comprehensive response to the Royal Commission’s full report next year.  As the Royal Commission has now delivered its full report, it has ceased to exist, as it has completed the task set out in its terms of reference.

Part one
The Government received Volumes 1-3 of the Royal Commission’s report on 29 June 2012, and released our response to this part on 23 August 2012.

The Government accepted all the findings in Volumes 1-3 of the Royal Commission’s report, and its 70 recommendations.

The first part of the report has helped to inform the redevelopment of the Christchurch CBD through the Christchurch Central City Plan.  This part of the report will influence future design and construction practice in Canterbury and throughout New Zealand. 

Many of the recommendations align with technical recommendations from the expert panel which reviewed the collapse of Christchurch buildings during the 22 February 2011 earthquake.  Some of these recommendations have already been implemented or work on them is underway.

Part two
The Government received Volume 4 of the Royal Commission’s report on 10 October 2012.

The Government publicly released Volume 4 of the report on Friday 7 December 2012. This volume covers earthquake-prone buildings and how they are identified and managed. 

It is estimated there are about 15,000 to 25,000 buildings across New Zealand that are earthquake-prone. The destructive Christchurch earthquakes have highlighted the need to review and improve the system for dealing with earthquake-prone buildings across New Zealand.

Alongside this report, a consultation document was released, containing proposals to improve the way we deal with earthquake-prone buildings across the country. 

The current system already requires earthquake-prone buildings to be dealt with.  We plan to consult with the public on a mandatory national requirement and timeframe for doing so.  The Government realises there could be significant economic implications for building owners from strengthening or removing the most vulnerable buildings, which is why we want New Zealanders to have their say. You can do this at

The Government feels that, after the experience of Christchurch, we need to take a more active role in ensuring buildings are up to standard.  We want New Zealanders to have their say on the best way to do this.

Part three
The Government received Volumes 5-7 of the Royal Commission’s report on 29 November 2012.  We released the final part of the Report on Monday 10 December without an official Government response at this stage.  In total, the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission’s full report (Volumes 1- 7) was more than 1100 pages long and contained 189 recommendations, including 83 recommendations in the last three volumes.  The Government will consider the full Royal Commission report and release our overall response in early- to mid-2013.

Find out more
The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission website
Read part one of the report here
Read part two of the report here.
Read part three of the report here.