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May 6, 2013

Christchurch, New Zealand: rising from the rubble … and better than ever

By Nicky Wagner, Member of Parliament for Christchurch Central

The Christchurch rebuild, following the devastating 2010/2011 earthquakes, is the biggest economic event in New Zealand’s history. And it is well underway.

Signs of redevelopment are everywhere and the Canterbury economy is booming – growing at more than twice the rate of the rest of the country in the past year. The current National-led Government has earmarked $5.5 billion for the region’s recovery and rebuild, while latest insurance claim estimates top $30 billion. This is, on a New Zealand scale, simply immense.

As the Member of Parliament for Christchurch Central, one of this city’s most damaged areas, I am excited about the plans for Christchurch and the blueprint for the new city centre. It has involved extensive professional and community consultation and collaboration, and many anticipate the new CBD will soon become hot property because of its redesigned compact layout.

You may well have seen images of the ReStart Container Mall, with its colourful, innovative combinations and inviting atmosphere, while the recently opened central city Enterprise Precinct and Innovation Hub (EPIC) has set out to become a world class campus for innovation-based Canterbury companies.

We look forward to the redevelopment of a number of new civic assets, including a 2,000-seat convention centre, new bus interchange, the Avon river green belt and a new 35,000-seat stadium. All over the city and Canterbury region, major infrastructure repair and reconstruction is well underway.

CEO of the Canterbury Employers’ Chambers of Commerce Peter Townsend is invigorated by the huge financial possibilities in the recovery, anticipating significant involvement as the rebuild continues to gather momentum. He emphasises this is going to go on for a long time.

And given the sheer scale of the rebuild, this means we need to recruit especially skilled people, particularly geotechnical experts and engineers, construction managers and supervisors. Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Hon Gerry Brownlee says in the past year, demand for construction project managers and supervisors increased 88% and 356% respectively, such is the volume and scale of projects beginning to come on stream.

Migrant input into the rebuild is genuinely welcome. Systems are in place to meet the demand and provide for a rise in population. We want to ensure there is a long-term vision for the rebuild – that this is no boom and bust scenario. We want to sustain a growing population, a booming economy, and a thriving new city.

Christchurch is already renowned for its quality schooling, healthy family lifestyle and of course, abundant and diverse recreational opportunities within a very short drive from the city. But with the skills, people power, capital, and palpable enthusiasm pouring into the rebuild, it can only get better.

Indeed, Lonely Planet recently ranked Christchurch in the Top Ten cities for 2013, describing it as “rising from the rubble with a breath-taking mix of spirit, determination and flair”. I couldn’t agree more. We are not just rebuilding a city, we are creating something quite special. Christchurch has a vision to become one of the best modern cities of the world and we invite you to be part of it.

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