Councils would need to provide clearer information about risks like flooding and earthquakes in LIM reports, with more protection against legal action, under new legislation.
A new Local Government Official Information Amendment Bill has been introduced to Parliament setting out requirements for councils to make Land Information Memorandum (LIM) reports clear and concise.
Associate Minister of Local Government Kieran McAnulty said the bill would fix "serious issues" with the current approach to LIMs.
"LIMs can often be hundreds of pages long and refer to detailed technical reports, which the average person doesn't have the time or expertise to read. Councils may also not include helpful summaries or clear explanations for fear of legal action," he said.
"This amendment is a critical action under the National Adaptation Plan as it will empower the public to make informed choices on where they build their future.
"The government is also using this opportunity to align the withholding and certification processes of the LGOIMA with the Official Information Act (OIA)."
In a statement, Insurance Council of New Zealand chief executive Tim Grafton welcomed the new bill, saying New Zealand had a "real and ongoing problem with building and maintaining assets in dumb places".
"This should cover at least the next 50 years where such information is available. In particular, people and lenders should have access to, and look carefully at, all available hazard information when considering applying for, or writing, a mortgage," he said.
"Beyond the enhanced provision of hazard information, it is also long past time that councils do more to simply stop development in high hazard zones, particularly those identified around our coast and in known flood zones."'
Grafton said it would open the door to much-improved information about natural hazards like flood risk and coastal erosion, and it was important that it specifically allowed projected climate impacts to be considered.
The bill was introduced during a marathon extended hours sitting at Parliament expected to progress 24 pieces of legislation, some of them through all stages.
The house rose at 10pm last night and is expected to sit 9am to midnight for the rest of the week, including Friday and possibly into Saturday.
Leader of the House Chris Hipkins yesterday said the urgency motion was intended to make up for a week worth of sitting time lost when Parliament took a break to mark the death of the Queen in September.