Skip to main content

CTV building collapse


Members of the Japanese Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team working on the site of the CTV Building.

When the earthquake struck at 12.51 p.m. on 22 February 2011, the six-storey 1980s CTV building at 249 Madras St ‘rapidly and almost completely collapsed’. Its tenants included local broadcaster CTV (Level 2 and part of Level 1), education provider King’s Education (Level 4), medical centre The Clinic (Level 5) and Relationship Services (half of Level 6). One hundred and fifteen people – 62% of all the fatalities – died in the CTV building.

In his contribution to QuakeStories, Malcolm, who worked for CTV, recalls that he had by chance left the building about 10 minutes before the quake:

I am one of the lucky ones who escaped the devastating collapse of the CTV building.

I work as the Sales Manager at CTV (Canterbury Television). My wife had worked at QEII Park for 24 years. On the 22nd February 2011 at 12.25 p.m. she phoned to say that she had jumped into the main pool to save a man who was in difficulty earlier that hour. She was fully clothed and asked me if I could go home, pick up some dry clothes and drop them to her so that she could teach her next class at 1 p.m.

I was due to hold a meeting with my sales staff at 1 p.m. but agreed to do this. I delayed the sales meeting until 1.30 p.m. so all of the team decided to stay and catch up on some paper work. None of them survived.

I left the building at 12.40 p.m. and was within 5 minutes from home when the quake struck.…

Calls to my colleagues at CTV went unanswered. I received a call from my brother at 1.40 p.m. who had a building within a block of the CTV building. He gave me the news. I later realised that the unanswered calls I had made were to colleagues who I would never speak to again.

I lost 16 of my colleagues, friends that day out of 115 fatalities in the CTV building.

If it was not for my wife helping someone in trouble earlier in the day, I would have been the 17th victim from Canterbury Television lost in that building that day.

The CTV building’s collapse was one of several investigated by the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission which reported in June 2012. The Royal Commission found that the building’s design relied ‘on the north wall complex and the south coupled shear wall to resist the lateral loads generated by earthquakes’. Defects including a lack of ductility (ability to stretch or deform under tensile stress) in areas such as joint zones, columns and drag bars ‘meant that these two walls were not able to function as the designer intended in the strong shaking generated by the February earthquake’. It noted inadequacies and deficiencies in the engineering design, construction and post-2010 earthquake inspection of the building.

In December 2017 the New Zealand Police announced that they would not be charging anyone in relation to responsibility for the collapse.

The report of the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission contains biographies of those who died in the CTV building as a result of the earthquake (vol. 6, pp. 5–37).


New Zealand Defence Force, 2 March 2011. Sourced from QuakeStudies

How to cite this page

CTV building collapse, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated