Free content by Fresh Content.net

Wednesday, December 9

Quake Lessons Shared


The Gisborne earthquake was remembered in Wellington last Monday, at a workshop held to discuss experiences and lessons learnt following the event. The magnitude 6.8 quake struck Gisborne at 8.55pm on 20 December 2007, causing extensive damage to many businesses and homes in the area.

John Lucas of the Insurance Council of New Zealand told delegates the region experienced a huge shortage of resources immediately following the Gisborne quake.

Mr Lucas told delegates that unnecessary delays and frustrations in building assessment completion could be simply and effectively improved through training. He proposed that training be implemented to improve engineers’ knowledge of the insurance industry, so that assessments and decisions can be made more quickly in the future.

Mr Lucas said there was also a considerable lack of knowledge throughout New Zealand around loss of earnings insurance, and what entails adequate insurance cover.

Around 140 researchers, local government representatives, engineers and others from throughout New Zealand attended the free half-day workshop, with some coming from as far afield as Australia.

Other speakers included engineer Dave Brundson, who helped introduce the ‘red-amber-green traffic light’ system to code buildings according to the type and extent of damage they had suffered. Mr Brunsdon compared his observations of the 1989 Newcastle quake, in which 12 people were killed, with the Gisborne quake, in which no lives were lost. Both quakes struck with similar intensity, but the extent of damage was significantly different between the two.

Organised by Dr Felicity Powell and Dr Abigail Harding of Opus International Consultants Central Laboratories in Lower Hutt, the workshop focused largely on the post-quake period of residential and commercial recovery.

“We really wanted as many people as possible to come along and share their knowledge and experience, and we were delighted with the result,” said Dr Harding.

Other speakers discussed human behaviour during and after large-scale events, land use planning, and the findings of several surveys into the experiences of business owners and individuals who experienced the Gisborne event.


The workshop was sponsored by Opus International Consultants, the Gisborne District Council, Resilient Organisations, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, GNS Science, and the Insurance Council of New Zealand.

Planning is now underway for an earthquake conference to be held in Christchurch early in the New Year. Dates for the conference have not yet been finalised