21 Mar 2013

Govt open minded on marae quake proofing

7:54 pm on 21 March 2013

The Government says it hasn't yet decided whether marae buildings could be excluded from proposals to change the system dealing with earthquake-prone buildings.

The Historic Places Trust says it's concerned about the future of marae, because many of their toilets and wharekai (dining halls) have been built using unreinforced concrete blocks.

It says marae trustees also face decisions about whether to demolish buildings or pay for repairs.

The Government's suggesting that all buildings would be assessed within five years and, if earthquake-prone, would be strengthened or demolished within 10 years of assessment.

Building and Construction Minister, Maurice Williamson, is confident Maori will want to protect their taonga and stay safe.

He says anyone would be hard pressed to find anything on a marae that isn't worth protecting in some way.

Mr Williamson says exemptions, longer time frames for making assessments, or an instruction not to force marae to make changes for cultural reasons are all points that could be considered.

However, he says people who use marae would want to know buildings are either meeting safety standards, or the chances of them dying in the marae during an earthquake are very, very low.

Mr Williamson says submissions on the plans have closed, but he would still accept feedback from tribes.