Capital concern: The four major events that could spell doom for Wellington

Wellington has identified the four big threats to its prosperity, which it needs to plan for.
JOHN NICHOLSON/FAIRFAX

Wellington has identified the four big threats to its prosperity, which it needs to plan for.

A devastating earthquake, the rising frequency of storms and sea levels, a massive economic downturn and an Auckland-style housing crisis – these are the things that could bring Wellington to its knees.

These four major "shocks" have been identified as the most significant threats to the capital's future prosperity by a collective of Wellington City Council staff, business people, utility providers, scientists, academics, health workers and volunteers from across the region.

The Resilient Wellington report forms part of the capital's role as part of the global network of 100 cities, including Christchurch, working to share knowledge that will protect them from physical, social, and economic disasters

READ MORE:
* Emergency reservoir for Wellington Hospital gets pushed ahead
Wellington suburbs face a 100-day wait for water after quake
Report urges quake safety in fewer heritage buildings
Secret seismic tests on city office blocks
* Wellington should show more urgency on quake-prone heritage buildings 
* Big quake could cost Wellington $20b
* Wellington beats Auckland in economic growth
* Wellington market heats up 
* Economists says Wellington's prospects improving

 

RECOVERY FROM A SEISMIC SHOCK

A major earthquake was "undeniably" the most profound shock Wellington has experienced in the past, and will experience in the future, the report found.

If the Wellington fault, which cleaves Wellington and Hutt Valley, suffered a large rupture then the capital's CBD could have no power for 95 days, no waste disposal for 75 days and no road access for 120 days, although the Transmission Gully motorway could significantly improve things.

A separate report recently estimated some suburbs would also be disconnected from the water network for 100 days.

These recovery times could force business to relocate outside of the region, particularly if it was going to take almost 100 days to restore power to the central city, the report said.

Ad Feedback

"In practical terms, this means that supermarkets will not be stocked, car use will not be viable beyond individual suburbs and the CBD will not function."

A devastating earthquake like the one that hit Christchurch in 2011 is the top concern for Wellington. 

Other events, such as a tsunami and fires in urban areas, could also be triggered by a big quake.

The report found Wellington was poorly-perpared for post-quake fires as the response would be hampered by a lack of water and traffic congestion.

About 5500 buildings in Wellington's CBD have been assessed and 720 have been deemed earthquake-prone.

A big Wellington earthquake could potentially cause $12 billion in building and infrastructure damage in the capital, and an annual GDP loss of $10b, the report said.

Scientists estimate the last big movement of the Wellington fault occurred between 300 and 500 years ago – long before the capital as we know it existed. If it happened today, the rupture could lower some areas by a metre.

Storms are likely to become more prevalent, causing major disruptions in some areas

CLIMATE CHANGE AND SEA LEVEL RISE

Climate change is also likely to trigger greater frequency and intensity of river and coastal flooding, land-slides, high-veolcity winds and disease outbreaks across the Wellington region, according to the report.

"Events, like storms and related flooding, will be faced by some parts of Wellington - Hutt city in particular - on a regular basis and will be a significant source of disruption to the region."

While Wellington's geography was well-suited to drain heavy rainfall, the floor of the Hutt Valley was not, which would mean flooding in areas where there is already extensive development, and plenty more to come, the report said.

READ MORE:
Submerged cars, flood streets, swamped schools
* Floods hit Wellington region hard
* Evacuations after heavy rain, floods

It also pointed out that while much of Wellington was already constructed for dealing with strong winds, climate change may also change the nature of wind, and the city did not yet know what that would mean for its infrastructure.

Wellington has extensive amounts of residences, businesses and roads that are vulnerable to rising tides and coastal erosion. The capital's south coast and the suburb of Kilbirnie, along with the Lower Hutt suburbs of Eastbourne and Petone, are thought to be most at risk from sea level rise.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the issue was being looked at now, as a matter of urgency

Global economic uncertainty, such as the recent concern caused by Brexit, is also something Wellington is wary of. Photo: Supplied

ECONOMIC PROSPERITY

Wellington needs to make sure it economy was diverse enough have the ability to respond to financial shocks like the Global Financial Crisis and the more recent uncertainty created by Brexit.

Wade-Brown said the city also needed the tools to large increases in unemployment or people going to food banks

Natural disasters feature in the discussion here too,with the report pointing to Government contingency plans to move to Auckland if Wellington is too incapacitated.

Wade-Brown said Wellington was also home to a lot of jobs on the periphery of Government, such as policy analysts, which could also follow.

"If Government has gone somewhere else then guess where the policy analysts are going to go."

Wellington is keen to see avoid its house prices getting out of control. Photo: Fairfax NZ

QUALITY OF LIFE

Wade-Brown said housing affordability was also a concern for the council. It wanted to learn more about Wellington so it could avoid heading down the path that has seen Auckland house prices soar out of the reach of many.

"I think it's pretty simple that somehow we've got to get more housing built here."

Outside of council and state-owned housing, Wellington does not have a deep understanding of how safe, warm and affordable its housing stock is, the report said.

"However we do know that homes are damp and draughty, with consequential health issues."

The report found about 6000 households in Wellington spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.

This group was considered most vulnerable to housing market pressures, while some were already experiencing rental stress.

LEADERS REACT

Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett, who is also chairman of the region's emergency management group, said the report highlighted the need to get on with critical water and roading infrastructure projects across the region

"Wellington's biggest threat is a catastrophic disaster that cuts of the city's lifelines and makes it impossible to run Government, which could then move to Auckland and we struggle to get it back."

Wade-Brown said Wellington had already assessed about 5000 buildings for seismic risk, strengthened water reservoirs and council housing, and painted tsunami warning lines in vulnerable suburbs.

"So it's not like we've been sitting there, doing nothing and waiting for this report."

Mike Mendonca​​, the city council's chief resilience officer, said Wellington's future planning, particularly when it came to earthquakes, would focus on "thriving" rather than just surviving.

"We're trying to think about what the key things are that we need to do in order to thrive faster than Canterbury has done."

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

* The resilience report will be debated by city councillors on Wednesday.

* If they agree with the areas of focus, then solutions will be drawn up and presented to councillors in September

* Funding for those solutions will then be discussed

* Comments on this story are now closed

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Power pole crash closes street

Beaconsfield St is closed after a truck collided with a power pole.

A power pole is in danger of coming down after a truck crash in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn.

Five hurt in house blaze

At least two fire crew remain at the Maurice St home, bystanders said.

One person is seriously injured after a bedroom fire in south Auckland.

Young disabled man to be deported

Sagar Narayan relies on his family for help.

Immigration NZ says he's a burden on the health system. His dad says he'll die if he's sent back to Fiji.

Road signs for kererū

New NZTA signs warn drivers of low flying kererū.

New Zealand's native pigeon will have extra protection from drivers thanks to new NZTA signs.

Wellington

Victoria Uni hall a 'feral zoo'

Images of alleged drunken destruction at the Victoria University Te Puni Village over the weekend have emerged.

Alleged drinking binge sees vomit and rubbish strewn across Wellington student hall.

Scared at the wheel

How courteous are you when driving?

Most Kiwis have no faith in other drivers, but apparently don't own their bad driving.

Lundy appeal: The killer video

Mark Lundy, pictured at his 2015 retrial, is appealing his convictions for murdering his wife and daughter.

Crown says no evidence suggesting slaughter was burglary gone wrong.

Hijacker could get $25,000

Abdille said a government rule change stopped her reuniting her family in 2004.

Asha Abdille injured two pilots in 2008. Now, she's out of jail and could be in the money.

Canterbury

Flames engulf West Coast house

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

A fire has destroyed an elderly man's home on the West Coast.

'Auntie Dai' paid out

Dai Bing was working as the manager of the Auntie Dai's Dumplings restaurant in the Christchurch Bus Interchange ...

Company ordered to repay woman whose name adorns a dumpling restaurant chain.

Hijacker could get $25,000

Abdille said a government rule change stopped her reuniting her family in 2004.

Asha Abdille injured two pilots in 2008. Now, she's out of jail and could be in the money.

Stuck in rebuild limbo

Michelle and David McLean's home rebuild was demolished before it could be completed.

Michelle McLean wants to warn people about cross leases after her property got stuck in a rebuild deadlock.

Waikato

Virtual cave tour

Ruakuri Cave will be the first cave system in New Zealand to be brought onto Google Maps.

Google goes underground, allowing you to explore one of NZs hidden gems from home.

CBD is hot property

Hamilton CBD, seen from teh east side of the Waikato River, is experiencing increased occupancy amid a stroing of new ...

Waiting for a tenant doesn't work any more, Hamilton commercial real estate leader says.

Toilet training in paradise

Raglan hopes to stop any unnecessary wastewater overflows by reminding people of what should and shouldn't go into the ...

Holiday destination plagued by sewage spills takes toilet etiquette to the street.

Casino robbery lead

Police want to speak to this man in relation to the robbery of a man from the Hamilton's SkyCity Casino.

Police want to speak to this man after a winner was followed and robbed at knifepoint.

Taranaki

Ute dragged out of sea video

Dave Chadfield, of Chaddy's Charters, points to where a ute is submerged in the marina at Port Taranaki after two men ...

"I heard screaming, yelling and swearing and saw two guys walk ashore."

Jury out in sex case

A jury of eight men and four women have begun deliberations at a sex trial in  the New Plymouth District Court. (File Photo)

A jury is considering verdicts in a case involving sex allegations which date back 10 years.

A man without Viices

McComb said he would love to perform at Homegrown or the Reading Festival in the UK at some point.

Viices, aka Jake McComb, "only really made enough to pay for parking" the first time he busked.

No 8 Taranaki's best player

Toa Halafihi has been named Taranaki player of the year.

Taranaki give out players of the year awards.

Manawatu

A rural shemozzle

Libby Masefield having fun with bulls' balls in her mouth.

What started as a yarn at the pub has become a rural event attracting 5000 visitors a year. 

Appeal continues video

Mark Lundy, pictured at his 2015 retrial, is appealing his convictions for murdering his wife and daughter.

Lundy's appeal expected to cover petrol and public perception.

Milner-Skudder surgery complete

Nehe Milner-Skudder dislocated his shoulder after an awkward fall during the All Blacks' win over Springboks earlier ...

Injured All Blacks star hopes to be back in late April or May after successful operation.

Life-changing bikes introduced video

Tetraplegic Marina Theron hopes to one day use the bike freely.

Walking bikes put the rehabilitation of people with crippling illnesses into motion.

Nelson

Milk dance creative, entertaining

The Creamery was part of the Nelson Art's Festival.

The Nelson Musical Theatre was transformed into a cheese factory for The Creamery - an interpretive show about the world of cheese.

Final drop begins

A small number of protesters show their disdain for the third poison drop at the Brook Sanctuary.

Final poison drop starts as part of the Brook Sanctuary operation.

Man critical after Suter Gallery fall

The Suter Art Gallery in Nelson, where an independent contractor fell on Tuesday, sustaining critical injuries.

A man is fighting for his life after falling while carrying out work at the Suter Art Gallery.

GP practice accredited

Collingwood Health is now Foundation Standard certified.

After failing to meet accreditation standards in the given timeframe, Collingwood Health has now achieved them

Marlborough

A rose for Red Cross

There are 2500 roses ready to sell at the fundraiser on Thursday.

Preparations are underway for Red Rose Day tomorrow.

Bridging the gap

Sounds Air chief executive Andrew Crawford says if the research stacks up 19-seater Beechcrafts could be flying between ...

Sounds Air could be flying 19-seaters between Christchurch and Blenheim by early next year.

Corporate rowing crews battle it out

30082017 News Photo: TOM LEE/STUFF - Sport - Rowing NZ team media day at Lake Karapiro. Mens eight

Corporate 8 crews optimistic at Wairau Rowing Club's annual challenge.

'Skylarking' caused fatal crash

Lara Glover, 16, died and four others were injured in the car crash on February 19.

Teen driver caused fatal crash by swerving his parents' SUV from side to side while doing close to 100kmh.

South Canterbury

Jet boat marathon hits Waitaki video

18102017 News JOHN BISSET/STUFF.  World jet boat marathon on Waitaki River contact Paul Mullan 027284 9194. Pictured are ...

The sound of jet boat engines echoed along the  'difficult' Waitaki River yesterday.

No word on SH1 call

Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin

Pareora residents renew calls for lower speed limit after three-car crash in September.

Teacher censured over kayak trip

Waimate High School principal Janette Packman said Albrey had displayed a high level of integrity at his time at the ...

A Waimate High School teacher has been censured for serious misconduct

Call to check wells

Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey told RNZ Tuesday there had been anecdotal accounts from ...

Households urged to monitor their private water supplies regularly - particularly those with pregnant mothers, or young babies.

Otago

A man without Viices

McComb said he would love to perform at Homegrown or the Reading Festival in the UK at some point.

Viices, aka Jake McComb, "only really made enough to pay for parking" the first time he busked.

Qtown businesses losses continue

Businesses are making insurance claims for interruptions caused by a burst water main.

Businesses are making insurance claims for ongoing interruptions caused by a burst water main in central Queenstown.

Ministry backs down on buses

A Queenstown school bus.

Students living in Sunshine Bay, Frankton, Jack's Point and Kelvin Heights will have to find their own way to school.

Cromwell basin business booms

At least 35 businesses supported the 11ha extension of Akarua's Pisa Development Vineyard near Cromwell.

Akarua Vineyard organises impromptu fair to celebrate viticulture investment.

Southland

The Lim hymn: Let's Eat

Celebrity chef Nadia Lim shares her latest book, Let's Eat, with Julie Allan, Sarah Johnson and Gabrielle Berger Sidwell ...

Despite releasing seven cookbooks in seven years, inspiration is never far away for celebrity chef Nadia Lim.

Bravery awards given

Nightcaps men Conrad Waihape, left, and Phil Manson were presented with Bravery awards at a Southland District Council ...

"It was pretty dark and bloody hard to see..."

Let's talk, Southland: Kirwan

Sir John Kirwan visited Northern Southland College, Lumsden, on Tuesday afternoon.

Mental health speeches "powerful, timely, relevant".

Aparima College to get new principal, board of trustees

Aparima College commissioner Nicola Hornsey.

Embattled Aparima College in Riverton is set to have elections to form a board of trustees after its new principal is recruited.

Ad Feedback