Christchurch Royal Commissioners announced

  • Christopher Finlayson

Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson confirmed today the Government will recommend Sir Ron Carter and Associate Professor Richard Fenwick as commissioners for the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Building Failure caused by Canterbury Earthquakes.

When those appointments are signed off by the Governor-General, they will join chair Justice Mark Cooper on the Royal Commission.

The two have considerable experience in analysis, problem solving and the engineering sector.

Sir Ron Carter has a considerable background in the engineering sector, as a former managing director of Beca Carter Hollings and Ferner Ltd. He is a current director of Rugby New Zealand 2011 and has extensive governance experience, including chairing the Civil Aviation Authority. He has led a number of high profile reviews, including the 1999 review on the management of New Zealand’s borders. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Institution of Professional Engineers.

Richard Fenwick is an Adjunct Associate Professor in Civil Engineering at the University of Canterbury. He is a leader in the field of earthquake engineering and is internationally renowned for his work in the design of seismic-resistant reinforced concrete structures. He was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2010 for services to engineering.

The Royal Commission’s terms of reference have also been finalised.

The terms of reference require the Commission to look at two major areas:

It will inquire into buildings in the Christchurch CBD, looking specifically at what factors led some buildings to fail severely; why some buildings’ failure caused extensive injury and death, and why buildings differed as to the extent to which they failed and caused injury or death.

That will mean looking at, among other things, the characteristics of buildings which may have led to failure (for example age, location, whether buildings conformed to earthquake risk best practice).

It will also inquire into the adequacy of current legal and best-practice requirements for the design, construction and maintenance of buildings in central business districts in New Zealand.

The Royal Commission will report its findings by 11 April 2012, but will release an interim report after six months.

The report will also include the Royal Commission’s recommendations for:

1. any measures necessary or desirable to prevent or minimise the failure of buildings in New Zealand due to earthquakes;
2. the cost of those measures, and
3. the adequacy of legal and best-practice requirements for building design, construction and maintenance, in as far as those requirements apply to managing risks of building failure caused by earthquakes.

The Commission will be supported administratively by the Department of Internal Affairs.