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Natural Hazards

The nature of Marlborough’s climate, topography and geology combine to create the potential for significant natural hazards. Flooding, land instability, earthquakes, storm surges, fire and drought have all been experienced in living memory.

Some natural hazards, such as flooding, create localised risks, while others could affect the whole area eg; earthquakes. In many cases, natural hazards cannot be controlled or contained by humans. The impacts of a hazard can be made worse because of the pattern of settlement and development.

Civil Defence and Engineering Lifelines Group

Much of the responsibility for civil defence planning and response is carried out by the Marlborough Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, which includes Council, the Nelson/Marlborough District Health Board, the police and fire services. An Emergency Management Plan has been prepared to manage hazards and risks in accordance with the principles of reduction, readiness, response and recovery.

The Marlborough Engineering Lifelines Group has been set up to reduce damage following a major disaster and reduce the time lifeline utilities (roads, water supply, power supply, communications etc), will take to restore their usual level of service after an event.

Resource Management Plans

Both the Wairau/Awatere and Marlborough Sounds resource management plans have a range of rules and other methods to limit the impact of natural hazards on certain land uses. Development (including building), in areas of unstable land and within flood hazard areas are the two main activities that are controlled.

Making Earthquake Prone Buildings Safe

The Building Act requires local authorities to develop a policy for those local buildings most vulnerable in a moderate earthquake. The Council’s policy requires the earthquake risk of mostly non-residential buildings to be evaluated and requires earthquake prone buildings to be strengthened. An assessment of buildings at risk has been carried out and property owners notified of the need for the buildings to be strengthened.

In This Section:

  • Flood information
    The Marlborough District Council has a major role in alleviating flood situations to reduce threat to life, damage to property and to keep roads and other infrastructure operating.
  • Drought
    Drought is the least spectacular but often the most persistent natural hazard to affect Marlborough.
  • Earthquake
    Marlborough lies within the highest earthquake risk zone in New Zealand. This is because the district is crossed by a series of fault lines associated with the movements of the tectonic plates beneath New Zealand.
  • Fire
    Fire has the potential to threaten anyone, regardless whether you live in an urban or rural area, or whether you are at home, work or enjoying one of the recreational opportunities Marlborough has to offer.
  • Landslide and slips
    The geology, soils, topography and climate in some parts of Marlborough combine to create the potential for land instability.
  • Tsunami and storm surge
    A tsunami is a series of waves created when a body of water, such as an ocean, is rapidly displaced on a massive scale.

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