QuakeCoRE Seminar – 29 November 2019

Te Hiranga Rū QuakeCoRE Rebid | Investigators
October 4, 2019
Wharekauri Tsunami Engagement
October 31, 2019

10 am Friday 29 November

Dr. Toni Collins (University of Canterbury)

“The Law of Cordons – is there a legal lacuna?”


The cordoning of the central business district in Christchurch as a consequence of the earthquake in February 2011 was an unprecedented response to a natural disaster in New Zealand.  The decision to cordon in this way was made for the purpose of controlling movement around the city to protect the public from a potentially dangerous area and to enable those involved in the response to work free from impediments. However, the cordon had significant implications for those living and working within the cordoned area. Access was severely restricted and highly controlled for over two years. In contrast, the Wellington City Council took a different approach to cordoning after the Kaikoura earthquake in 2016. It chose not to close its central business district while undertaking building assessments as it did not consider it necessary for public safety and therefore did not want to cause disruption to those living and working there. Instead it erected cordons around specific buildings or sites as necessary. These two very different approaches must be considered in light of the different circumstances: in Christchurch the earthquake was centred close to the city and there was immediate and obvious damage to buildings. In Wellington, the earthquake, although larger in magnitude, was centred much further from the city and did not cause the extensive damage seen in Christchurch. Yet, it is clear that significant damage is not always obvious nor can be necessarily discovered from an initial assessment. This means the question to cordon or not to cordon is a difficult and complex one requiring the balancing of a multitude of factors which leaves decision makers carrying a heavy burden. This talk covers the law on cordons as it relates to emergencies in both the response and recovery stages to examine whether it is sufficient and fit for purpose or is there a legal lacuna?


For details on how to join the seminar – return to the 2019 Seminar series home page link

Zoom link

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