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Tue September 28 2021

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Milestone reached on New Zealand project to secure masonry facades

1 Oct 18 All 113 building facades with dangerous elements of unreinforced masonry (URM) in Wellington, New Zealand, have now been secured as part of an earthquake resilience programme.

All of the projects bar one were completed within the initiative’s 18-month deadline; the final one was being finished off today (1 October).

Thirty-nine people were killed and more than 100 people were injured by unreinforced masonry buildings in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Building owners were given 18 months to secure their URM elements of clay brick, concrete block or stone units bound together using lime or cement mortar without any reinforcing elements such as steel bars.

Following the Kaikōura Earthquakes in 2016, government passed a Recovery Act. It enabled councils to require owners of certain URM buildings to secure their street-facing URM parapets and facades within 12 months, from March 2017. The deadline was later extended by six months.

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“It’s a real achievement that the city has reached this milestone,” says Wellington mayor Justin Lester. “Having the URM elements secured means Wellington is a safer, more resilient place for all of us. Three months ago 54 building owners were still to complete their work. There’s been a concerted effort by these owners to meet this tight deadline and on behalf of the city I’d like to congratulate them for their efforts.”

All building owners who met their deadline are eligible for funding support from the New Zealand government and Wellington City Council.

Wellington City Council URM programme manager Hayley Moselen said that it has been a challenging project with tight deadlines. “The council appreciates the determination shown by owners and everyone involved to secure these buildings,” she said. “Over the last 18 months, Council officers have got to know these building owners and their contract teams well. They’ve all faced obstacles and unique circumstances and have pushed through these to get the work done.”

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