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Natural hazards

The Resource Management Act (RMA) considers natural hazards and their effects.

​What are natural hazards?

Auckland is affected by natural hazards that occur:

  • frequently, such as flooding, coastal erosion (including the effects of sea-level rise), freshwater erosion and land instability; and
  • less frequently, such as wildfires, volcanic activity, tsunami, earthquakes and meteorological hazards such as cyclones, tornadoes and drought.

All of these hazards can affect people, property and the wider environment.

How we manage natural hazards

We manage natural hazards by:

  • identifying hazard zones on planning maps
  • asking for site investigations and engineering work to assess and reduce risk in areas of identified land instability or areas prone to flooding by stormwater or sea
  • controlling activities in areas likely to experience these hazards
  • limiting or prohibiting structures in areas of known risk
  • requiring more intensive engineering design where necessary.

The management response for specific natural hazards is highly dependent on the nature, location and effects of the particular hazard, and the community in which the hazard is located.

Find out how specific hazards can be managed through the RMA.

How we assess risks from natural hazards

We assess the risks on a case-by-case basis.

A risk management approach applies to existing development and infrastructure, while a risk reduction (including avoidance where appropriate) approach applies to development of greenfield land.

For example, the construction of a seawall could include assessment of coastal hazards such as coastal erosion, removal of dune vegetation and loss of coastal access.

Some risks from events with low probability but high potential impact (e.g. volcanic activity, tsunamis and earthquakes) cannot be addressed through land use planning and may be better addressed through measures put in place by emergency management groups such as Civil Defence.

These include education, warning systems and emergency preparedness.

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