Earthquake proofing standards for Wellington are the highest in the country, and amongst the highest in the world. Everyone has known for a long time that sooner or later, Wellington is going to be struck by a major quake (magnitude 8 or greater). The last one that size was in the mid eighteen hundreds, and raised quite a bit of ground. We are told to expect one that magnitude every 150 years or so....

Large buildings are built on base isolators, some having what look like giant shock absorbers underneath. If you're ever in Wellington, check out the simulator and see the foundations at Te Papa.

Modern buildings in Christchurch, built just prior to the big quakes, would likely not have met even 30% of the then Wellington code. Same story for other major centres. There's a lot of reviewing of building codes now, and even some revisions following the recent Wellington quakes, for example how to better secure office ceiling tiles, ensure sprinklers don't get activated, etc.