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Our earthquakes in New Zealand and the hurricanes in the Pacific, as well as our earthquake code require a change of building practices from those in vogue in countries which do not have our problems. Earth houses can be built to stand up to severe earth and air movement but these require a lot more expense than methods used for building earth houses in Australia and the United States.

The earth house, next to the cave, is one of the oldest type of buildings in the world. There are examples which go back 7000 years. In the excavations in the ruins of Jericho earth walls have been found standing and in Mesopotamia (now Jordan) walls a lot older have been found. The best example in the world is the Great Wall of China. A lot of this has been restored in recent years by the Government of the Peoples Republic. The Romans took the method of rammed earth building to Europe about 2000 years before Christ. In South America there are adobe buildings up to six centuries old and they are still in use to this day.

In New Zealand the early settlers and gold miners erected many buildings of earth and some of them are still in good condition today. The oldest and probably best kept is Bishop Pompallier's house at Russell in the Bay of Islands and this was built in 1846. There is also a beautiful house in Nelson called 'Broadgreen'. This house was built in the 1850's for Mr Edmund Buxton. It is two-storeyed as is Bishop Pompallier's house. In spite of the severe earthquakes in the vicinity during the last fifty years the lovely old house is as sound as a bell.

The advantages of building in earth are their low costs, low maintenance, excellent acoustic properties, low insurance rates, almost totally fireproof, borer and ant proof and resistant to small arms fire and fragments from shells and mortars.

Page: 11. Nga Whare Uku The Houses of Earth and How to Build Them
Available from bookshops or from:
David Jones Publications
c/o AP Jones
59A Nixon St
Phone: 00-64-6-3453-162
Price: $20 NZ plus postage

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