Masterton District Council has carried out rapid building assessments in the Tinui area to determine whether buildings affected by Cyclone Gabrielle are safe to occupy.

Tinui township and surrounding areas (including Castlepoint, Mataikona and Whakataki) have  been “designated” under the Building Act 2004 to help manage ongoing risks to people from buildings.

The designation allows Masterton District Council to take specific actions under the Building Act to manage buildings in an emergency, including the ability to:

•         enter buildings

•         complete post-event assessments

•         direct the evacuation of buildings

•         put in place measures for protecting buildings and keeping people at a safe distance

•         place notices and signs on buildings

•         direct the owners of building or land to provide information

•         direct works (urgent and non-urgent) to remove or reduce risks

•         direct works for long-term use or occupation of a building.

Initial assessments are rapid – taking about 20 minutes – and can sometimes be completed by inspectors from outside the building, without needing to enter.

Following an inspection, a building will receive either a white, yellow or red placard (sticker).

To date, five buildings in the designated area have received yellow placards and four have received white placards.

The placards are a legal instruction and only authorised officials can place, change or remove them. Their meanings are set out below:

White – no access restrictions

White placards indicate a building has suffered light or no damage and can be used. However, a white placard doesn’t necessarily mean the building is safe, as there could be unobserved damage. Owners of white-stickered buildings may still want to get their own engineering checks done.

Yellow – access restricted

Yellow placards indicate a building may have sustained moderate damage and access is restricted. This generally means either some identified areas of the building pose a significant hazard and cannot be used, or that the public cannot enter except under supervision for a limited time on essential business. This could include emergency or assessment purposes, for example, or removing critical business records, valuables and property.

Red – access prohibited

Red placards indicate a building cannot be used and entry is prohibited because it has sustained moderate or heavy damage and poses a significant risk to health or life. This could be from the building itself, from external factors such as adjacent buildings, or from ground failure.

More information on rapid building assessments is available on the MBIE website here.

People with buildings affected by Cyclone Gabrielle can request a rapid assessment by calling Masterton District Council on 06 370 6300.

Building owners have a responsibility to ensure their buildings remain structurally sound following a major disaster. They must also continue to comply with their obligations in relation to health and safety, tenancy and lease agreements, and any other contracts.

Rapid assessments are an initial safety check. Building owners should contact their insurers if buildings are damaged.