You are here

Canterbury Land Programme

The Earthquake Commission Act 1993 provides insurance cover for residential land against natural disaster damage. 

This type of cover for land damage is unique in the world, to the best of EQC’s knowledge.  It was added to the Earthquake Commission Act 1993 following a landslide in the Dunedin suburb of Abbotsford in 1979, when 69 homes were destroyed.  Homeowners lost not only buildings but also complete use of their land.

The Canterbury earthquakes in 2010-2011 caused severe and widespread damage to residential land.  Over 50,000 properties were affected by liquefaction-related land damage – the most ever seen worldwide in an urban setting.   The earthquakes also caused subsidence affecting 85 percent of residential properties in Christchurch. 

The scale and extent of the land damage, together with EQC’s unique land cover, created significant engineering, legal and operational challenges for EQC.  EQC instructed its engineers (Tonkin + Taylor) to provide advice on the nature and impacts of the land damage.  Different types of land damage were identified on the plains (known as the “flat land”) and in the Port Hills.  In the Port Hills, land damage largely comprised rockfall and cliff collapse.  On the flat land, seven types of visible land damage were identified, including ground cracking, local ponding, and inundation by ejected sand and silt.  In addition to these visible types of land damage, two new forms of non-visible damage were identified – increased vulnerability to liquefaction or flooding in future natural disasters. 

Briefing: Canterbury Land Programme (PDF, 1.5MB)

Page last updated: