New laws requiring the identification and upgrade of earthquake prone buildings come into effect this week, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“Earthquakes are New Zealand’s biggest natural hazard risk, with the greatest danger coming from building failures. We cannot completely eliminate the risk to life from quakes but, just as modern cars are safer in an accident, modern buildings are safer in a quake. These new laws involve an uncomfortable and inevitable trade-off between safety and cost but will save hundreds of lives in future quakes when fully implemented.
“The new regime divides New Zealand into three earthquake categories. In high risk areas, like Wellington, buildings need to be assessed within five years and upgraded within 15 years. In medium risk areas like Hamilton or Nelson, the timeframe is 10 and 25 years respectively, and in low risk areas like Auckland it is 15 and 35 years. There is also flexibility in the regime to add 10 years to the timetable for registered heritage buildings and to exempt buildings with low risk and low usage.
“We’re prioritising schools, hospitals and emergency buildings like fire stations, requiring that they be assessed and upgraded in half this time. We are also prioritising unreinforced masonry facades and parapets in high traffic areas because too many lives were lost in Christchurch from these features.
“We are supporting implementation of the new Act with regulations to help councils identify potentially earthquake prone buildings and also new engineering guidelines to ensure better consistency in assessments. The new law targets many public buildings, and we have committed hundreds of millions to replacing and upgrading these. We have also established an assistance fund to help private owners of heritage buildings.
“I am also exploring options for Government assistance in multi-unit complexes where some parties may struggle to raise the finance for their share of strengthening costs. Officials are considering whether we could extend other Government housing guarantee products schemes to assist in these circumstances.
“This is an ambitious new policy for better managing earthquake risks from buildings. Few seismically active countries require upgrades of existing buildings. There has been years of consideration following the Christchurch earthquakes, with the Royal Commission and multiple rounds of consultation. Now it’s time for getting on with the job.”
Forty temporary accommodation homes at Rangers Park village will become social and affordable homes to help Christchurch residents in need of housing, Housing New Zealand Minister Amy Adams and Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.
Seven of the temporary accommodation homes at Rangers Park village have been sold to Housing New Zealand, with the remaining 33 houses to be sold to first home buyers under the KiwiSaver HomeStart scheme.
“The seven properties to be converted into social houses are high quality, with the right size, layout and design to suit many of our Christchurch families needing a warm, safe place to stay,” Ms Adams says.
“These new homes will help achieve the Government’s aim to reuse temporary accommodation homes as social housing, and will help to increase the social housing supply in Christchurch.”
“The Rangers Park village has played an important part in assisting the Christchurch earthquake recovery by accommodating 240 households during the past four years. We deliberately made a decision to use the site as not just temporary housing but to build it to a quality that it would become available for permanent housing. The demand for temporary housing has been reducing and is now at the point that it is appropriate to sell the homes,” Dr Smith says.
The 40 properties at Rangers Park are a mixture of two, three and four bedroom homes in standalone, townhouse and duplex design styles. Each house has its own lot, title, indoor garage access, double glazing and heat-pump.
“It is Government policy to favour mixed housing developments of social and market homes. This means 33 of the homes will be sold privately. These sales are restricted to owner-occupiers who are first home buyers. The Government is this way able to assist in achieving its broader goal of improving home ownership,” Dr Smith says.
People interested in buying one of properties available to first home buyers are encouraged to register for KiwiSaver HomeStart grant pre-approval with Housing New Zealand, as those with pre-approval will be contacted when the properties are advertised. More information about the KiwiSaver HomeStart grants is available through the Housing New Zealand website.
The number and value of homes being constructed across New Zealand is continuing to grow and reach new highs, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith said today in response to the May statistics on building consents.
“The 2794 building consents issued nationally in May is the highest for this month for more than 40 years, an 11 per cent increase on last May and over double the rate of five years ago. The annual home construction rate is up another 2000 to 30,645 a year, the highest rate for more than a decade. These positive figures show the Government’s efforts to grow housing supply through Housing Accords, Special Housing Areas, RMA reform and increasing Government housing initiatives is continuing to deliver results,” Dr Smith says.
“These figures confirm that New Zealand is experiencing its biggest ever building boom, with a record $19.7 billion level of annual investment. Residential building activity is annually up another 12 per cent to $12.8 billion, and commercial activity is up 9 per cent to $6.9 billion.
“New Zealand has never had six straight years of such strong growth in building activity. This growth is welcomed but we are having to put more effort into ensuring we maintain quality as well as quantity of construction.
“I particularly welcome the ongoing strong growth in Auckland residential construction. These May figures have construction there up 21 per cent on last May. The 10,379 homes consented for the year to May 2017 is the best in more than a decade.
“The Government’s housing programme is pulling every available lever to get more houses built. The resolution of the issues over the Three Kings and Point England developments this month will help maintain this positive momentum. Our ongoing programme of reforms to the Unit Titles Act, Urban Development Authorities and the Building Act, as well as our own ambitious building programme, will ensure this strong momentum is maintained.”
New Zealanders will be able to better manage the risks of methamphetamine in residential properties following the release of a new standard, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean say.
“The new standard is a huge step forward in helping home owners and tenants deal with the risks of methamphetamine contamination. It will give people greater confidence and certainty, will result in hundreds fewer properties having to be vacated and save millions in unnecessary decontamination work,” Dr Smith says.
“The major gain from the new standard is having clear methods for sampling and testing, and competency requirements for samplers and decontamination contractors. The most significant change is the new 1.5μg/100cm2 limit, as compared to 0.5μg/100cm2 under the old guidelines. These were focussed solely on the risks of a clan lab, whereas the new standard results from a better understanding of the health risks.
“This new standard will form an important part of new legislation I introduced to Parliament last month. The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2) gives landlords the right to test for meth and enables tenancy agreements to be terminated when levels are unsafe. The new standard will be referenced in the regulations and will become legally enforceable when the Bill is passed later this year.”
“It is quite appropriate that this new standard has been funded from the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009. The damage done to residential properties is just a fraction of the social and economic harm methamphetamine is doing in New Zealand. These new contamination standards and residential law change are a small part of the Government’s anti-drug initiatives.”
“These new standards are an important new addition to consumer protections. They will help clean up an industry that has had problems over inconsistent tests and excessive decontamination costs,” Ms Dean says.
“Standards New Zealand follows a robust process in developing all standards, in line with the Standards and Accreditation Act 2015. Twenty-one committee members from the public and private sector contributed to the development of the standard, by offering expertise on the methods and logistics of testing and decontamination of affected properties.
“I’m pleased to see the work put into the development of the standard has resulted in a strong piece of guidance.”
See the new standard, NZS8510:2017 Testing and decontamination of methamphetamine contaminated properties, here: https://www.standards.govt.nz/sponsored-standards/testing-and-decontamination-of-methamphetamine-contaminated-properties
I move, That the Point England Development Enabling Bill be now read a third time. This bill is part of the Government's comprehensive housing plan, where we are pulling every lever available to get more housing built. It is the sort of pragmatic legislation that shows we are serious about resolving the problem. It also provides the benefits of enabling the settlement with Ngāti Paoa and a plan to enhance the amenity and recreational value of this long-neglected reserve.
Let us be clear about the housing problem in Auckland. It fundamentally comes down to a lack of housing supply and particularly the supply of land. Labour choked off new housing developments with its 2004 changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) that legally locked in Auckland's metropolitan urban limit. That saw new home construction plummet, from 12,000 a year to just 4,000 a year. We have been systematically opening up that new supply, through special housing areas, through the Auckland Unitary Plan, through reforms to the RMA, and through the Crown Land Development Programme.
We have achieved strong growth in new home construction for 6 straight years running—the longest and strongest construction boom in the history of Auckland. But we need to keep doing more, because New Zealand is continuing to succeed and continuing to grow. Today's America's Cup success will just add to Auckland being successful and attracting additional people.
Opposition parties' response to this growth challenge is to say that it is all too hard. Mr Little has even said that we should just take a breather. Our Government is focused on the solutions that will build the houses and infrastructure to support that growth, and this bill is part of that plan. Three hundred additional homes, just 10 kilometres from the city centre, are another contribution alongside Hobsonville, alongside Tāmaki, alongside Three Kings, and many other scale developments.
The initiative for the scheme came from Ngāti Paoa, in the course of their Treaty settlement negotiations. This is ancestral land that is recorded as having one of the largest Māori settlements anywhere in New Zealand in the 1820s. They fairly argued that given 18 hectares of this reserve has been grazed by cows for over 40 years, would it not be a better use for it to be for housing and a marae? The proposal is very straightforward. We send the cows packing and we free up 18 hectares. We use 2 hectares of that for a Ngāti Paoa marae, we use 12 hectares for this housing development, and we add 4 hectares for additional space for recreation and amenities.
We have further committed that all of the Government's revenue from the housing development will be reinvested into the reserve. The toilets and the facilities on this reserve are currently a disgrace. The Ōmaru Creek through the reserve is one of the most polluted in Auckland. The playing fields have poor drainage and no lighting. This is why this is such a great opportunity—300 more homes, a 2 hectare marae, enhanced facilities, and the guaranteed retention of the 8.4 hectares of playing fields. The only downside is the loss of cows.
The part I do not get, from Labour members' opposition to this bill, is why they love cows so much in the centre of Auckland. In other parts of New Zealand their policy is that their numbers must be capped and they must reduce their numbers. But in Auckland, Labour members say that cows come before families needing housing. Actually, Labour's position on this bill so aptly illustrates the identity crisis within the Labour Party. They oppose foreign students in low-value education, and have bad-mouthed low-value education programmes and then run their own one, so they can get some free campaign workers. It has now even become clear that they broke immigration laws.
They put students up in accommodation that would knock the very standards they promote and demand that landlords must meet. They demand that we build more houses and then on every single housing development that is proposed, they come out and oppose it. They have a policy of limiting cow numbers, but then defend the grazing of cows on prime land in Auckland. They pretend that they support Treaty settlements, and then they try to wreck the very important Ngāti Paoa initiative.
It is these constant contradictions in Labour's position that leave New Zealanders completely dumbfounded as to whether the once-proud Labour Party today stands for anything.
Let me conclude by making plain the plan forward, after the passage of this bill this evening. The 12 hectares of land that will be freed up for housing will be added to the Crown Land Development Programme and negotiations will get under way with Ngāti Paoa on the detailed housing development. We are committed to 20 percent of the 300 homes being reserved for social housing, and a further 20 percent for affordable housing, with 60 percent being set aside for market use. All of the funds generated from the housing development will be reinvested into the Point England and surrounding community facilities.
The bill requires that the cows must be gone within a year. The playing area must be retained and enhanced with lighting and proper drainage. The creek will be cleaned up. We have also committed to enhanced habitat for the local seabirds like the New Zealand dotterel. We are committed to working with the local community, Ngāti Paoa, and the Auckland Council to deliver on this vision.
The opposition from the Labour Party members to this bill is truly pathetic. It shows that they are far more interested in politics than actually getting on resolving the issue of housing. The Opposition spokesperson has continuously challenged me to think pragmatically and imaginatively—as he has the community—on the issue of housing. This bill delivers on real gains in terms of additional housing. It gives real gains for amenity and recreation, real gains for the environment, and, fundamentally, it is about an area that has been grazed by cows to which the public have had no access for more than 40 years being used for housing.
I, finally, must note this in terms of the history of the reserve because some have suggested that somehow it is council-owned reserve. This reserve was bought and paid for by taxpayers, by all New Zealanders, and we in this Parliament have a duty to ensure that our land is used effectively and, quite frankly, having recreation reserve grazed by cattle for 40 years, 10 kilometres from the centre of Auckland, is not effective land use. That is why the pragmatic answer put forward by Ngāti Paoa is a very sensible and pragmatic solution for this beautiful part of the great city of Auckland. I commend the bill to the House.
The passage of the Point England Development Enabling Bill through Parliament this evening will benefit Auckland with additional housing, help resolve Ngāti Paoa’s Treaty claim and improve the local environment and recreation facilities, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The current Point England Reserve is not good use of public land, with 18 hectares fenced off for over 30 years for grazing cows, the Okura Creek being one of the most polluted in Auckland and old, rundown recreational facilities. The Bill requires the cows to be evicted, uses 12ha for housing, 2ha for a Ngāti Paoa marae and increases the recreational and amenity space by 4ha. All of the Crown proceeds from the housing development are to be invested in the local community, with enhanced recreational facilities, improved playing fields and for cleaning up the Okura Creek.
“The 300-home development on 12ha of the land is a significant contribution to Auckland’s housing needs. The next step will be finalising a development agreement with Ngāti Paoa that will require a minimum 20 per cent social housing and 20 per cent affordable housing. These new homes are particularly important because of their close proximity to the city and the role they can play in accelerating the redevelopment of thousands of new houses in the adjacent Tāmaki Redevelopment Project.
“I commend Ngāti Paoa in initiating this project in the negotiations of their Treaty settlement. This is ancestral land that had one of the largest Māori settlements anywhere in New Zealand in the early 19th century. It is quite appropriate that 2ha be provided for a marae on this iconic, central city, coastal site.
“The Government is keen to engage with the community, Auckland Council and Ngāti Paoa on the detailed plans for enhancing the recreational facilities, amenity and environment of the remaining reserve. The Bill specifically requires the current 8.4ha of playing fields is retained and the intention is that they be enhanced, with proper drainage and lighting. We also want to ensure areas are protected for coastal birds like the New Zealand dotterel.
“The primary solution to Auckland’s housing challenges is building more homes. We have made great progress in lifting the house build rate from 4000 a year to 10,000 a year. Practical initiatives like this partnership with Ngāti Paoa at Pt England will ensure we maintain this momentum.”
Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith is disappointed that a community group in Nelson, the Brook Valley Community Group, is legally challenging national regulations for pest control.
“Pests like rats, stoats and possums kill 25 million native birds a year and effective control is essential if we are to ensure the survival of iconic species like kiwi and kaka. The national pest control regulations for the use of 1080 and brodifacoum were introduced this year on the recommendation of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to ensure consistent and safe use of the poisons. The regulations provide strong safeguards to ensure the operations are done professionally and that the environment and public health are properly protected.
“These national regulations were publicly advertised in April 2016 and received 220 submissions, with 163 in support. The submissions strongly supported the view that the regulation of pest control was best done nationally rather than every council having different rules. The regulations were supported by Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, Federated Farmers of New Zealand and Local Government New Zealand. I announced the decision to proceed with the new national regulations in February this year.
“It is disingenuous of the Brook Valley Community Group to object to detail of the regulations when their position is that they totally oppose the use of 1080 and brodifacoum. Their submissions on the regulations describes the use of poisons as ‘a monstrosity and scientific fraud’. Their submission and request that communities needed at least 12 months’ notice of the date any pest control operation is impractical and unreasonable. The fact the group advised the media prior to lodging court papers suggests this legal challenge is a stunt.
“I am particularly disappointed for the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust, who have worked so hard for over a decade with thousands of volunteers and millions in fundraising to create a safe haven for our native birds in Nelson. This legal challenge will just push up their costs and make their job more difficult.
“The Government will be vigorously opposing this legal challenge, including the application for an injunction on current planned pest control operations.”
Millions of waste tyres each year are to be used to manufacture cement as part of a wider Government plan to address the environmental problems of end of life tyres, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced at the Golden Bay Cement works in Whangarei today.
“New Zealand has a long-standing problem, with five million waste tyres generated each year. We have dozens of tyre stockpiles around the country posing a fire risk, leaching contaminants, providing a breeding ground for rodents and insects, and blotting the landscape. This initiative proposes controls on new stockpiles, establishes a nationwide collection and shredding operation and provides a large scale end use by installing technology to enable waste tyres to be used in cement manufacture.
“The proposed National Environmental Standard will prohibit stockpiles of waste tyres of over 200m3 - 2500 car tyres - without a council consent dealing with the environmental issues of leachate, fire risk, vermin and insects, visual amenity and a bond for future disposal. These new restrictions are needed to protect the environment, prevent ratepayers having to pick up the bill of dealing with stockpiles and to help channel waste tyres into more sustainable recycling and disposal options.
“The Government has provided a grant of $3.8 million for Waste Management New Zealand to set up a nationwide tyre collection network and tyre shredding facilities in Auckland and Christchurch involving capital investment of $6.4 million. This is needed because the major barrier to re-use of waste tyres is their bulk, making transport and disposal uneconomic. The shredding machinery will be imported this year, operational in Auckland by the end of 2017 and in Christchurch in 2018.
“Golden Bay Cement, a subsidiary of Fletcher Building, is being provided with a grant of $13.6 million towards the $18.1 million cost of new equipment that will dispose of 3.1 million shredded tyres per year. This technology is globally one of the most common and economically viable solutions to waste tyres. The high temperature incineration minimises pollutants, the steel in the tyres contributes to the iron requirements of cement and the rubber provides a fuel substitute for coal. The major environmental gain from this initiative is a solution for millions of waste tyres but there is also a benefit in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Golden Bay Cement is New Zealand’s fifth largest emitter and the substitution of rubber biofuel for coal reduces emissions by 13,000 tonnes per year, or the equivalent of 6000 cars.
“We are also providing grants of $1.2 million to another seven smaller tyre waste projects. Eco Rubber Industries Ltd is being provided with a grant of $600,000 towards $2.4 million of machinery to produce rubber granules for rubber underlay, with a capacity for 600,000 tyres per year. Nufuels Ltd is being provided a $90,000 grant for a $135,000 pilot pyrolysis plant for 150,000 tyres per year. Other grants to Scion and Fulton Hogan cover feasibility studies into using recycled rubber for sound proof building products, roading and cycleway construction that could develop into future end uses for New Zealand’s waste tyres.
“These Government grants of $19 million will enable $28 million of investment into tyre waste solutions. Combined with the new regulations restricting stockpiling, these measures will go a huge way towards a sustainable solution to New Zealand’s end of life tyre problem.”
More information on these of funded projects can be found on the Ministry for the Environment’s website at http://www.mfe.govt.nz/more/funding/waste-minimisation-fund-funded-projects
A Northland Regional Council project to improve water quality at Otuihau/Whangarei Falls has received a $258,000 Community Environment Fund grant, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.
“This grant will enable the Council to continue to improve the water quality at this popular tourist spot and swimming hole by erecting fencing, riverside planting and stock water reticulation on farms in the upper Hātea catchment, which feeds into the falls. The project will erect nearly 40km of fencing and plant 30,000 native plants in the margins between the river and fences and in public areas during the next three years,” Dr Smith says.
“The funding will also contribute to community awareness activities, such as open days and planting days. New signage at the falls reserve will help educate the community on the cultural and ecological values of the water and what people can do to help.
“The project has a total cost of $575,000, with the Council contributing $150,000 and farmers expected to contribute the remaining $167,000.
“This is the sort of practical initiative we are going to need all over New Zealand to meet the Government’s target of 90 per cent of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040. This ambitious target will require the upgrade of 1000km of waterways every year for 23 years. This project is not only a positive contributor to this target but is also a good community example of how it can be achieved.”
The Community Environment Fund provides funding so New Zealanders are empowered to take environmental action. It support projects that strengthen partnerships, raise public awareness of environmental issues, and encourage community participation in environmental initiatives. The fund has awarded more than $12 million to environmental projects since 2010.
The Otuihau/Whangarei Falls project’s first community planting day is on Saturday 24 June at Springs Flat Road Commercial Area from 11am to 3pm.
New Zealand is less exposed to the risks of fire as a result of combustible claddings on high-rise buildings due to these products being restricted earlier this year, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The Government amended Building Code provisions in January this year to restrict the use of combustible cladding systems in buildings following fires in Melbourne and Dubai. I am advised that these systems are not prevalent in New Zealand. I have asked the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to contact councils and check whether any high-rise buildings have been constructed with these materials prior to the amendments earlier this year.
“New Zealand’s style of housing is shifting, with more people living in high-rise apartments that carry greater risks from fire hazards. Our building regulations need to keep pace with this change in living styles and ensure that New Zealand never experiences what occurred at the Grenfell Tower in London.
“The Government is further tightening the fire safety requirements for high-rise buildings with proposals put out for consultation in May. These proposals clarify the responsibilities between structural and fire engineers, tighten the verification methods for claddings and fire-fighting provisions such as water supply and location of fire hydrants in the building and improve the process for the development of alternative solutions.
“We will be watching the detailed inquiries into the London disaster to see whether there are any issues relevant to New Zealand’s building and fire regulations. We always need to be on the lookout for ways to improve public safety.”
See the amendments to the Building Code cladding provisions here: https://www.building.govt.nz/about-building-performance/news-and-updates/codewords/codewords-issue-77/changes-fire-safety-external-cladding/