A history of anti-seismic measures in New Zealand

  • G. A. Eiby DSIR Seismological Observatory, Wellington, New Zealand


The existence of a seismic problem in New Zealand was recognised in 1848. Limited governmental action and pioneering structural investigations followed. There were no major disasters between 1855 and 1929, and interest in earthquakes declined. Nevertheless, several papers by New Zealanders were published in the early 1920s, and the schools of engineering and architecture drew the attention of students to seismic problems. Modern building regulations have their origin in the report of a committee set up after the Hawke's Bay Earthquake in 1931, but some local authorities have still to adopt anti-seismic measures. The Hawkes Bay earthquake also stimulated observatory seismology. The earliest Civil Defence legislation was intended to deal with riots, and later with the effects of air attack, and the organisation has only recently become concerned with natural disaster. Relief measures were traditionally considered a matter for local
bodies or for the police and armed forces, and these bodies are still involved. Unique insurance measures were introduced during the Second World War. Since then there has been continuous advance in engineering and seismological research, improvements in building regulations, insurance provisions, and the organisation of civil defence.


Rawlinson, M. R. 1971: Organisation for Disaster. The Development of Civil Defence in New Zealand, 1959-1970.

Bligh, P. McL. 1972: Human Adjustment to the Earthquake Hazard in New Zealand.

Eiby, G. A. 1968, 1973: A Catalogue of New Zealand Descriptive Earthquakes.

How to Cite
Eiby, G. A. (1975). A history of anti-seismic measures in New Zealand. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 8(4), 255-259. https://doi.org/10.5459/bnzsee.8.4.255-259