Earthquake Case Study (New Zealand – Rich)



New Zealand is located in the Pacific Ocean in the continent of Oceania.  It is South East of Australia and consists of a North and South Island.  Its capital city is Wellington.

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The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand at 12:51 on 22 February 2011.  The epicentre was 6 miles South East of Christchurch and the focus was very shallow at 3.1 miles.  The earthquake occurred on a conservative plate margin where the Pacific Plate slid past the Australian Plate in the opposite direction.  It was technically an aftershock from a larger earthquake in 2010 but the impacts were more severe.


Primary (caused directly by the earthquake)

Secondary (result from primary effects)

181 people were killed and around 2,000 people were injured Business were put out of action for long periods causing losses of income and jobs
Hundreds of kilometres of water and sewage pipes were damaged Schools had to share classrooms because of the damage to other school buildings
50% + of Central City buildings severely damaged including the city’s cathedral which lost its spire Damage to roads through liquefaction made it difficult for people and emergency services to move around
Liquefaction (where the ground gets saturated and loses strength) caused lots of damage to roads and buildings People were affected mentally by the earthquakes and needed support
Part (size of 20 football fields) of the country’s longest glacier was broken off creating a large iceberg Christchurch could no longer host Rugby World Cup matches so lost the benefits, e.g. tourism and income, they would bring
80% of the city was without electricity

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Development Indicator


GDP per capita (average income) $27,700 per person each year
People living in poverty N/A
Life expectancy 81 years old
People per doctor 2.4 doctors per 1,000 people
Adult literacy rate 99% over 15 years old can read/write
Access to clean water 100% of people have access to clean water


Short Term

Long Term

Cared for the most vulnerable people and ensured people were safe from dangerous buildings Paid $898 million in building claims
Chemical toilets were provided for 30,000 residents Provided temporary housing and ensured all damaged housing was kept water tight
Areas were zoned (green, orange, white, red) to classify damage/cost of repairs Water and sewerage was restored for all residents by August
International aid was provided in the form of money (around $6-7 million) and aid workers Roads and houses were cleared of silt from liquefaction by August and 80% of roads/50% of footpaths were repaired