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Our History

A Short History of EQC

The first iteration of New Zealand's EQC scheme was set up in 1945 to provide affordable natural disaster insurance to help communities recover from natural disasters.

Today, EQC’s mission still reflects that same commitment: to reduce the impact on people and property when natural disasters occur.

Over the years, the body now known as the Earthquake Commission (EQC), has undergone several metamorphoses.

The organisation that began as the War Damage Commission was extended to cover earthquake risk and renamed the Earthquake and War Damage Commissionbecause of a need laid bare by the Wairarapa Earthquakes of 1942.

Unlike war damage insurance, earthquake cover was voluntary at the time and, as a result, most property was uninsured. Many buildings damaged in the Wairarapa quake had still not been repaired a year or so afterwards, largely because the owners couldn't afford to pay for repairs. The existence of a substantial war damage fund brought a demand for its use.

At that time, earthquakes and other natural disasters were not new to the New Zealand landscape, and the country had suffered a number of large and, in some cases, tragic natural disasters.

These event timelines provide a history of some of the natural disasters that have occurred in these small islands at the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean, and the environment that gave rise to the formation of EQC.