Marae at risk of being demolished

By Ani-Oriwia Adds

More than 70% of marae in New Zealand are facing a shakeup under new earthquake legislation.  The Building Amendment Act 2016 imposes tougher rules on all buildings, especially those located in red zones or earthquake prone locations and include many marae who can't afford insurance or to re-build

Tukorehe Marae just south of Levin is in a high seismic area and have been given a shake up to bring their marae to a compliance standard. 

Tukorehe marae spokesperson Lindsay Poutama says, “This building has stood for 120 years next month, it has suffered some pretty intense earthquakes and in that time nothing has happened to our whare tupuna, in fact, our marae has become a focal point and gathering point at a time of emergency.”

Regan Potangaroa has been working with a group of experts in the field of disaster impact in the hope to bring about good resolution for marae and the impacts it will face under the new law.

Disaster Architecture Regan Potangaroa says, “According to TPK's list there are 1300 registered marae in NZ with 70% of them having a building more than 50-years-old.  They will almost automatically be listed as earthquake prone buildings.”

“More importantly I worry we end up with a piece of legislation that is the response to things like fracking and other types of activity to Papatuanuku that creates situations that we now have to strengthen our buildings because of what’s being done,” says Poutama.

“None of them can really do any of the exploratory assessment work that will be necessary just to get them to the costs for rectifying that earthquake promptness,” says Potangaroa.

But Potangaroa says the impacts on marae is beyond financial.

“The technology about how to strengthen the marae in a way that doesn't destroy the marae architechture and heritage in that building,” says Potangaroa.

The areas of high seismicity are loosely contained within the tribal areas bounded by Ngāi Tahu, Rangitāne, Ngāti Kahungunu and Te Ati Awa. The legislation comes into effect July 1 next year