5 years since Christchurch changed

getimage (5)Five years ago today, 436,000 lives in Canterbury changed.

We did not know by how much or when we might return to normal, but we can agree that the upheaval started with a 7.1-magnitude earthquake 40 kilometers west of Christchurch just after 4.30 am on September 4, 2010.

The devastating aftershock that struck the city nearly six months later changed Canterbury on a much larger scale, but September was the start.

How do you measure and define the recovery? Dollars spent? Time elapsed? There is no right answer.

In truth, there are 436,000 different recoveries happening at once – one for every resident of Christchurch city and the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts.

No two versions of recovery are the same.

We have each taken stock of the process countless times and probably arrived at different conclusions for how the recovery is faring.

In the interests of providing the fullest answer possible, the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (CECC) asked a cross-section of key players in the rebuild to report their progress by a handful of measures, including project size, completion date and value. Dozens responded.

This year, perhaps for the first time, that snapshot hints at conclusion. The Earthquake Commission has completed 97 per cent of its 69,081 building repairs and 80 per cent of 150,735 land claims. More than 80 per cent of all quake insurance claims are settled, according to the Insurance Council of New Zealand. The Stronger Canterbury Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt) is 76 per cent through it $2.2 billion job of repairing the city’s roads and pipes. Almost all of the work in the central city (96 per cent) is finished.

The CECC asked respondents when they expected to finish their work. Some major projects, including the central city bus interchange and the ‘‘Deloitte’’ building on Cambridge Tce, are already finished. Next year looms as a big leap forward with a cluster of retail developments – the BNZ Centre, the ANZ Centre on the old Triangle Centre site, the Crossing and the Terrace – all scheduled for completion.

‘‘I would think by the end of next year, October 2016, when the heart of that central city retail offering is up and operational . . . you’re going to see a major shift,’’ CECC chief executive Peter Townsend said. ‘‘You’re going to see people coming back into the central city in ways that we haven’t seen for five years.’’

A Cera report from July estimated the rebuild – measured as progress in residential, nonresidential and civil construction – was 41 per cent complete. Of the three categories, only residential construction spending was trending down. The other two were steady or climbing. The peak for all construction in the city (including business-as-usual building) is shaping as the last quarter of 2016, when Cera estimates $1.3b will be spent.

The idea the rebuild was already peaking was ‘‘fallacious’’, Townsend said. He puts progress at somewhere between 35 and 40 per cent. The decline, when it did come, would be gradual. ‘‘We’re not going to fall off a cliff. The Government’s assessment of the end of this earthquake recovery phase is 2026. We’re going to taper off.’’

In construction terms, Cera estimated that would translate to a decline from the late 2016 spending peak to about $500m in the final quarter of 2021. By then, Christchurch will have almost spent all of the $40b recovery bill.

‘‘That [spending] has an impact on the future of Christchurch that I don’t think people have factored in,’’ Townsend said. ‘‘I’ve often been challenged by people saying ‘We’re only replacing what we’ve lost.’ No we’re not. It’s all new. We are recreating a city.

‘‘I don’t know anywhere in the world where $40b has been tipped into a population of 360,000 people to recreate a city. It’s unique.’’

The bulk of the money will filter through the economy via insurance payouts (according to the Insurance Council, commercial and residential quake claims are about 88 per cent and 84 per cent settled respectively) but some will arrive through big ticket developments. The University of Canterbury will spend $1.2b on its redevelopment by 2022, including new engineering ($145m) and science ($216m) facilities due by 2016 and 2017. The Ministry of Education’s $1.1b Christchurch Schools Rebuild programme includes the rebuild of 115 schools. The $900m redevelopment of Lyttelton port – a mix of quake repairs and expansion – will continue until 2042.

As those time frames suggest, the rebuild was never going to be a five-year job. Charles Eadie, who led the rebuild of Santa Cruz city after the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, told Fairfax Media the recovery reached a ‘‘turning point’’ six years after the quake and most work was completed after 10 years.

‘‘I think we’ll look back on this period of our lives and say . . . we were hopelessly optimistic when it came to time frames,’’ Townsend said. ‘‘We all thought we’d be over this in five years. No, we won’t.’’

The statement is truer of some things than others – Scirt prioritising central city infrastructure repairs over suburban ones, for example.

‘‘I don’t want us to get to 10 years and think that we’re in that kind of state we won’t be able to reflect very positively on our journey,’’ Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

The focus brought on the central city by the recovery blueprint and the magnitude of the task of repairing broken parts of eastern Christchurch posed that risk, she said.


The Press

Next stage for Christchurch rebuild

9bRMehChristchurch business leaders are applauding the Government’s transition proposal where the Government retains a key role in the Christchurch rebuild over the next five years.

They were concerned that the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) winding up next April year would leave a vacuum of leadership in the city and the Government’s commitment to anchor projects was flagging.

Ngai Tahu Property chief executive Tony Sewell said the proposal addressed every issue the business community had been concerned about.

He was happy with the Government’s “complete commitment” to building the Convention Centre and the Metro Sports centre. Ngai Tahu is part of a consortium chosen as the Government’s preferred partner to develop the Convention Centre.

Businesses had been concerned Government support for Christchurch was flagging “but it’s not.”

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee must report back to Cabinet by the end of August on the setting up of a new urban development authority, called Regenerate Christchurch, to lead the rebuild of the central city when Cera winds up in April.

The Christchurch City Council has set up its own development authority but the Government proposes now that its development authority should “integrate” with the council’s.

The Christchurch City Council and the Government are expected to work together to set up Regenerate Christchurch and decide what its aims are, what its functions would be, what powers it had and who would pay for it.

“They have clearly set out that there is going to be a relationship between Government and council, ” Sewell said.

Asked could the council and Government work together Sewell said “it’s not a can, it’s a must”.

“The voters and the ratepayers won’t tolerate a standoff.” Sewell said.

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said the proposal was sensible,offered a staged and predictable transition with the Government roles slowing decreasing and the council’s increasing.

It relied on collaboration between central and local government, “which I applaud” and good strong commercial governance.

He expected the Government and the council to appoint the board members of Regenerate Christchurch.

The chamber had been “pushing strongly” for a governance model over the top of the rebuild projects and that was now going to happen.

Asked if Regenerate Christchurch was just the Christchurch Central Development Unit (within Cera) with a new name, Townsend disagreed with that and said the transition proposal was a step change with new legislation, new leadership and a new collaborative relationship between the Government and council.

He expected the government and council to appoint directors to the board.of the development authority. Those people would have strong commercial experience and project management backgrounds and tracks records.

The Government’s proposal referred to some of Cera’s powers expiring or going to councils and some role for Ngai Tahu.

Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the tribal council of Ngāi Tahu,  Sir Mark Solomon said he was not aware of any detail on that.

He was on the advisory board, headed by Dame Jenny Shipley, that advised the Government. It called for a “demonstrable step-change in local leadership”.

Sir Mark said the advisory board wanted to see control start to return to the city though the Government still needed to be involved.

Hawkins Construction executive director Jim Boult said he was delighted the government confirmed its commitment to the Convention Centre and Metro Sports centre.

He would like to see timeframes on those two. The Convention Centre was “the lump in the throat” of the central city developing, he said.


  • The Press

Rebuild falling behind

Two years ago this month, The Press consulted developers, landowners, local leaders and recovery plans to form a picture of how Christchurch might look in February 2016.


Comparing 2013 schedules with progress made two years later makes for sobering reading. Timelines have changed several times and projects that were supposed to have started by now have stalled or been delayed months, if not years.

For some, the blueprint is to blame. The planning and designing phase has taken longer than expected in some cases and involved land acquisitions and zoning difficulties. Major anchor projects have been continually delayed, causing uncertainty for private developers and investors.

Even the quake memorial, which was supposed to be ready for the fifth anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake in 2016, has been delayed another year.

According to 2013 forecasts, construction of the convention centre should have started by December last year and work on the stadium and the metro sports facility by March this year. But no work has begun on any of the sites – the three major anchor projects have been delayed by several years. The Government has offered little explanation for the delays, despite developers and the community demanding answers this week.

getimage (2)This led to speculation that convention-centre costs were spiralling out of control and that Cabinet had rejected a business case for the metro sports facility.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee scotched those rumours this week. No business case had been rejected for the facility, he said. Budgets were ‘‘always revised’’ on any building project, ‘‘whether it’s a garden shed, a front fence or a convention centre’’.

‘‘I think everyone should relax and recognise that these types of facilities are going to be around for decades and you’ve got one shot at getting them right at the start.’’

Brownlee was ‘‘pretty relaxed’’ at the delays.

‘‘It’s just a matter of getting things right before you start pouring concrete on the ground.’’

Preliminary work – business cases, designs and plans – was ‘‘a good investment’’.

Brownlee said the city needed the convention centre and the metro sports facility and confirmed the projects would go ahead despite delays.

In Christchurch’s CBD, all major demolitions should have been completed more than a year ago but the Manchester St car park, Calendar Girls on Hereford St, the Orion building, and Westende House are still to be pulled down.

The stalling of Anthony Gough’s Terrace development was another blow for the central city’s development. It should have been completed in September this year but is running a year behind schedule. On the bright side, a rash of new buildings will be completed in the nearby retail precinct next year, including The Crossing, Cashel Square, The Terrace and the ANZ Centre.

getimage (3)The performing arts precinct has also stalled. Ground was broken last month for construction a 300-seat concert hall for the centre for music and the arts, but Christchurch art organisations are still waiting for the Government to pull together a deal for the rest of the precinct on a block bounded by Gloucester, Armagh, New Regent and Colombo streets.

The residential red zone was scheduled to be cleared last year. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) has made good progress but has extended the housing demolition deadline to June 2015. The land clearance will not be completed until April 2016.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) is also behind schedule. Land-claim settlements should have been completed at the end of last year but complex types of damage have emerged.

The Christchurch City Council has pushed back the opening of the central city library near Cathedral Square by about 18 months, to early 2018.

The design phase and land acquisition took longer than expected, the council says. Site clearance is under way and the council expects to get access to it in July.

The Margaret Mahy playground, on the old centennial pool site, is also running a year behind but should be open in time for the Christmas school holidays.

In 2016, Christchurch can expect the Avon River precinct and the south frame to be nearing completion, a year behind schedule.

It is not all doom and gloom. Some projects were completed almost on time and others are well on target.

Last year, the new Stranges building on High St opened only a few months later than planned. The same goes for the Isaac Theatre Royal, which opened six months later than expected.

The new bus interchange on Tuam St should be fully operational next month, as planned, and work on the justice and emergency services precinct is under way.

EQC is on track to complete its home repairs by the end of the year. The massive task of repairing Christchurch’s pipes and roads is on track for completion at the end of 2016.

Cera acting chief executive John Ombler said the Crown’s commitment to the vision of the blueprint had not changed.

‘‘What has changed are delivery times. We still have some business processes to go through, that’s just a fact . . . and we’ve made a commitment to update [the community] as frequently as we can.’’


  • The Press

Christchurch from the air

1430422109708Aerial footage of Christchurch’s central city has been turned into an interactive panorama of the post-earthquake recovery.

Helicam Pro manager Jared Waddams captured the view of Christchurch’s rebuilding CBD in early April and spent three weeks “stitching” the images together to create a website “like a high-definition Google Earth”.

Helicam Pro manager Jared Waddams says drone technology is the way of the future.

Waddams believed drones would eventually become part of everyday life and he completed the Airscapes project to show people what could be done with the technology now.

He received permission to close the airways above central Christchurch for about 15 minutes and take his drone 300 metres above the ground. The normal height allowance for a drone user was only 120m, he said.

The Airscapes website, which went live on Thursday, gives a 360 degree panorama of the Christchurch CBD.

The view is a combination of 37 high resolution images which were taken from a single point.

“You can spend  time just touring the whole city; it’s quite enchanting actually, quite mesmerising,” Waddams said.

He planned to update the images as the city’s post-earthquake rebuild continued.

“We’ve just got such a unique city scape at the moment.”

Go here to view, http://www.airscapes.co.nz/christchurch/


  • The Press
  • Photo: Andy Currie

Five-storey block for health precinct


The building will have up to five storeys in a campus environment.

Countrywide, headed by Richard Diver, is already revamping the old Deloitte House next door for the Canterbury District Health Board and has added 10 new office buildings to Victoria St.

Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) acting director Don Miskell said the latest health precinct deal showed investor confidence remained strong in the city.

‘‘Our aim is to establish a firstclass precinct that brings together health-related activity, including education.’’

The precinct will span four blocks between St Asaph and Montreal streets, Hagley Ave and Oxford Tce and Montreal St.

Diver said the building would have health-related tenants on its four office floors, with shops and hospitality outlets at ground level.

‘‘It will be a beautiful building, it will look spectacular. We are talking to tenants now, from both the public and private sectors.’’

The company was doing design work now and hoped to start building later this year, Diver said. The building’s exact size depends on how any tenants are signed.


  • Liz McDonald
  • The Press

$140 million precinct for Christchurch

getimage (5)Plans for a glossy $140 million development in the City Mall have been unveiled.

The precinct will include shops, offices, cafes, bars and car parking around a network of laneways and air bridges.

Christchurch’s wealthiest man, central city landlord Philip Carter, is behind the plan. Construction starts soon and the precinct will occupy new and heritage buildings on over a hectare of land between Cashel, Colombo, Lichfield and High streets. It is due to open in October next year.

Carter promised the development would be ‘‘the cornerstone of a vibrant and world-class retail precinct that will be a drawcard for locals and visitors alike’’.

The hospitality area would be open from daytime to evenings and feature a distinctive glass bubble facade.

‘‘It will give the central city a new heart and pump life back into the retail precinct as a whole,’’ he said.

Tenants have not yet been announced but are likely to include fashion and food and beverage outlets.

Carter said tenant interest had been ‘‘very strong’’.

A leading possibility is British global fashion retailer Topshop, as Carter has taken a shareholding in the company’s New Zealand arm.

Office floors will be at either end of the precinct, with hospitality in the middle.

An existing air bridge will link it to Ballantynes to the west and it will also link to The Crossing car park, which Carter has bought from the Christchurch City Council.

Carter has bought 80 per cent of the site since the earthquakes, expanding his smaller holding that was on the Cashel-Colombo corner under the original Crossing name.

He joins other landlords including Tim Glasson, Nick Hunt and Antony Gough in launching his development under special Christchurch Central Development Unit rules for the city’s retail core. Owners must put together masterplanned developments with pedestrian links.

Carter said this requirement had made planning harder but he was very pleased with the result.

‘‘We’ve spent a lot of time making sure there was plenty of sun and light and shelter. Getting the car parking was key to making it work,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s all going to start happening around here now – this area is really changing quickly.’’


  • Liz McDonald
  • The Press

Christchurch memorial shortlist

11242019_600x400 (4)The six shortlisted designs for the multi-million dollar Canterbury Earthquake Memorial have been unveiled.

Associate Earthquake Recovery Minister Nicky Wagner announced the final designs Tuesday afternoon.

  1. Memorial Wall with a reflective pond (see above)

This design is a long curving white “ribbon” wall of different heights and sizes. There are various “rooms” through the wall with the names of earthquake victims placed in lit alcoves in the wall. It includes a reflection pond.

  1. Table and Chairs

A bronzed 55m x 60cm table and 185 chairs would be fixed on the site. Some of the chairs people could sit on, others would structurally support the table.

Names would be embossed on a steel ribbon suspended above the table. The idea was based on the 185 empty white chairs memorial to the earthquake victims, which is opposite the site of the Canterbury Television building.


  1. A Green and Peaceful Landscape

This involves a spiral path with a chestnut tree in the middle. At the centre of the spiral is a shallow pool with the names underneath the water. The design includes a bridge across the Avon River.


  1. Call and Response

A sonic field of memory incorporating sound and engraved stone walls. This design includes a bridge and concave mirrors that reflect sound. Recordings, such as birdsong, would play. Victims names would be placed in alcoves. There would be a grove of Kowhai trees, which flower in February.


  1. Riverside Promenade

A remembrance wall on the Oxford Tce side of the river with a row of cherry trees to honour the Japanese nationals who died in the quake. Pieces of historic facades from buildings would be incorporated in the promenade.


  1. A Curved and Inclusive Memorial Wall 

Formerly known as the “Veil of Tears”, this design forms a place of contemplation. Water would flow along the top and face of the curved wall over victims’ names carved from greenstone. Stone terraces and an oval lawn could accommodate large numbers for civic events.



The memorial will form part of the Avon River Precinct, between Montreal St and Rhododendron Island, on the corner of Oxford Tce, Lichfield St and Durham St South.

The preferred design will be created using up to $10 million from the Government and $1m from the mayoral relief fund.

Families of those killed in the February 2011 quake and the seriously injured were invited to preview the final six designs on Sunday. About 40 people went along.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) earthquake memorial development director Rob Kerr said the design brief was for both or either side of the Avon River.

Victims’ families wanted the memorial to include water, greenery and honour those who died, the injured and rescuers.

The memorial should provide an experience, rather than simply act as a monument, Kerr said.

The shortlisted designs, which were anonymous, were “powerful”, he said.

“It’s all about the idea, it’s not about the reputation of the designer.

“On its own the site has water and large fantastic trees, which are the things the families wanted to see.

“The designers have really put a lot of heart and soul into it.”

All the designs were within budget and were in a similar cost “ball-park”, Kerr said.

The memorial needed to be durable, not just look pretty in a picture, he said.

The public will be asked for feedback on the finalised designs, which will be viewable online and will soon go on display outside Canterbury Museum on Rolleston Ave.

After the feedback, a Cera panel will make a recommendation on its preferred design to a memorial leadership group made up of Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, Wagner, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Maggie Barry and Ngai Tahu representatives.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee will make the final decision in May.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority hoped to have the memorial built by February 22, 2016 but this would depend which design was selected.


  • Joelle Dally
  • The Press

International conference awarded for new convention centre

11088786The first international conference is scheduled for Christchurch’s new convention centre, putting on the pressure for the complex to be finished by its 2017 target.

For more follow the link below;


Thank You Christchurch

Thank You Christchurch – SCIRT


Christchurch Council “struggling” to cope

christchurchThe Christchurch City Council admits it is struggling to cope with its rebuild work and wants to hand over responsibility for major development projects to a new commercial entity.

For more on this story follow the link below;


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