Checking your property after a major incident

A step-by-step guidance for how to approach your school property after a major incident.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Proprietors
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Teachers and Kaiako

Schools are required to follow emergency procedures after an incident. If schools are going to make an insurance claim, they must contact their property advisor in advance of undertaking any repairs on their property. 

Step 1: Schools and ECEs must visually check buildings and grounds

After a major incident such as an adverse weather event or earthquake, a school or ECE representative must visually check the school buildings for any signs of damage before the school can open.

If schools are concerned about buildings after this check, they must contact a property professional (see step 2). Use the emergency response checklist to note areas with damage. 

Emergency response checklist [DOCX, 131 KB]

Schools may need to isolate unsafe buildings and grounds.

 For grounds
  • Cordon off with tape, cones or posts
  • Use signs with warnings prohibiting access
 For buildings
  • Lock the doors and put up signs
  • Nail boards across doors and windows
  • Spray paint the building with warnings prohibiting entry
  • Use barriers (eg tape), or security fences if the risk is severe.

Step 2: Property professional may organise urgent repairs

What is a property professional?

A property professional is either: 

  • the school’s property manager
  • a project manager appointed by the school, or
  • an emergency response coordinator.
How to contact a property professional
  • Your Local Ministry office can help arrange a property professional to look at school buildings
  • Outside of work hours, contact your emergency response coordinator directly

Local Ministry offices

Emergency response coordinator contacts

What will a property professional do?

A property professional can organise urgent repairs for things like:

  • live electrical, mains gas, sewerage or water issues
  • cracking around ceiling beams and/or foundations
  • building movement off piles
  • soil liquefaction
  • damaged stairs/railings.

The property professional will organise an engineering check if needed (see step 3).

If anyone identifies an urgent health and safety issue at your school, you must get it resolved immediately. 

Step 3: Property professional may engage an engineer

There's a limited number of structural engineers and after a major incident like an earthquake engineers will need to prioritise their workload to concentrate on buildings which have the highest risk.

We can assist with arranging an engineer to survey school buildings.

Buildings over 2 storeys

School buildings which are over 2 storeys and of heavy construction are checked by structural engineers after every significant earthquake as a precaution.

Other buildings

A structural engineer will do a thorough survey if requested by a property professional.

Step 4: School organises non-urgent repairs

Find more detailed information on the maintenance, repairs and security page.

Property maintenance, repairs and security

For non-urgent repairs

Contact a property advisor

 If the damage is not causing an immediate hazard, email your property advisor with details of the damage including:

  • the building or part of the site affected
  • what the building is used for
  • the parts of the building affected
  • whether the building or area have been isolated
  • what's been done to make the building or area safer.
Manage your water supply How to safely manage your water supply:
  • post 'do not drink' notices if supply may be contaminated
  • shut off all water fountains or tape them up
  • have bottled water available or boil any tap water for 2 minutes before drinking and make this accessible to students
  • provide chemical hand wash in toilets
  • water can also be made safe to drink by using purification tablets and, if no other option is available, by adding 3 drops of bleach to each litre of water
  • in the longer term your local council or the Ministry of Health’s local health protection officer (HPO) or drinking water assessor (DWA) can confirm your water’s safety if you have any doubts.
Clean up broken fluorescent lights How to safely clean up broken fluorescent lights:
  • open all windows and leave the room for at least 15 minutes
  • turn off heating/air conditioning systems, heat pumps, dehumidifiers and ventilation systems
  • wear gloves
  • keep other people away during clean up
  • don’t use a vacuum cleaner or a broom. This could vaporise and spread mercury through the air and contaminate the vacuum cleaner or broom
  • wipe the area with a damp paper towel and put used paper towels and gloves in a plastic bag for disposal with other debris
  • dispose of unbroken lights by wrapping them in newspaper and taking them to retail stores which have collection boxes. Don’t recycle these lights.

Step 5: School may make an insurance claim

If you're going to make an insurance claim, you must contact us before you make any repairs.

Find out about the school building insurance funding programme and how to apply.

School building insurance funding programme

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