Earthquake risk notices pinned on many Wellington Catholic Churches

“Enter at your own risk” notices have been appearing on many of the churches in the Wellington Archdiocese.  More than half of the  Archdiocese’s buildings have been labelled as “immediate concern” of earthquake risk, with 25 churches deemed earthquake-prone.

The Archdiocese  is facing a price-tag of more than $3 million just to complete assessments and decide on remedial work for each of the 181 parish buildings in the area.

It has been assessing all parish buildings as part of Project Stronger, to identify which churches and schools are an earthquake risk.

The figures revealed by Archdiocesan General Manager, Paul Bayliss, in a recently completed Roadshow round the parishes show that after an initial assessment on 2011:

  • 50% of parish buildings are considered to be of immediate concern and need assessment.
  • A further 30% need assessment in the short-medium term.
  • Only 20% of parish buildings have no or low risk factors.


The assessment of schools showed:

  •  20% need assessment in the short-medium term.
  • 80% need assessment as part of the normal maintenance/development programme for our schools
  • CSBL manage this process on behalf of proprietors of the dioceses of Palmerston North and Wellington.
  • There are many non-integrated buildings (Halls, Churches) used by schools regularly that are a parish responsibility.
  • In the case of some Halls the parish may not even know they are responsible.


A follow up assessment shows that after assessments on 41 out of 181 parish and archdiocesan buildings

36 considered Earthquake-Prone (<34%NBS)

  • 1 of these assigned for demolition
  • 1 closed to ongoing use
  • 3 buildings are now being remedied
  • 31 being reviewed for appropriate action by the Project Working Group


2 considered Earthquake-Risks (34<67%NBS)

  • Remedial action may be needed in short-medium term on both


3 considered buildings of continual use with no medium term remedial action needed (67%NBS+)

  • 1 recently remedied
  • 1 completing minor work based on assessment recommendations to bring to 100%NBS
  • 1 built in mid-1980’s


In a letter entitled “Keep Calm and Grow Stronger” issued on 29 March 2012 Archbishop Dew says “The parish buildings throughout the Archdiocese of Wellington have been created and cared for by generations of committed Catholics.”

“It now falls to our generation to decide on the building legacy we will provide for those to come, who will seek to live in vibrant faith communities in this place.”

Dew said the Archdiocese “will use technical advice from experts such as scientists, engineers and architects – but, as always, it is only the guidance of the Holy Spirit, through prayer and discussion, that can lead us to truly wise answers.  I ask you, then, to pray for the Project Stronger Working Group, the Focus Group and the pastoral leadership throughout the Archdiocese as they help us all to understand these complex issues.”


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