School buildings not safe from earthquakes

Two schools have closed buildings because engineers said they would not be safe in an earthquake.

Last Friday Golden Bay High School in Nelson closed one classroom block. It was built 60 years ago, before the 1973 earthquake standards for buildings.

Yesterday, Wellington East Girls’ College closed a main building. It was built in 1924. The building has nine classrooms and staff rooms. It can accommodate 250 students and 73 teachers. There are 1,000 students at the school.

Next week, year 9 students will start their holiday one week early. During the July school holiday, prefabs – portable buildings – will be brought to the school. The main building may be demolished or repaired. This could take two years.

In 2008, the Wellington City Council sent a letter to the Ministry of Education to say that the building was not strong enough for a moderate earthquake. Since the Christchurch earthquakes, the Ministry of Education has been checking schools throughout New Zealand to make sure all classrooms will be safe in an earthquake.

A prefab is a pre-fabricated building which means it is made then carried on a truck to the school. Many New Zealand schools have prefabs. They are useful to carry from one school to another when student numbers drop or increase.

A classroom block is a building – often two-storeys and made of concrete – with classrooms in it.

Demolished – pushed over with a bulldozer

Some people say that the Christchurch earthquake has been a “wake-up call” for Wellington. What does that mean?


  1. It’s great to see that, even in these days of budget cuts, the City Council is taking safety seriously. Well done!

  2. Government should make sure that these type of buildings are safe, because a lot of students life are at stake.

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