Release Date: 19 June 2012
Having just celebrated a year in my role at CERA, last week was a good time for me to reflect on what has been done so far.
My first day was quite an appropriate introduction in a way – a couple of large earthquakes and tonnes more liquefaction. A very real example of the challenges being faced by so many Cantabrians.
Since then we had that very similar day, December 23. Two large quakes and liquefaction once more. Like all of you, I was frustrated and angry at nature. When would she give us a break?
But I’m happy to say those dark days have been few and far between in the past year. I know CERA comes in for criticism, and that’s entirely normal. We are dealing with a mammoth task and seeking solutions that suit every single member of this community 100 per cent will never happen, not in Earthquake Recovery, not in Health, not in Education – it’s the nature of society.
What I am happy about however is the enormous amount of work that I have seen accomplished.
As the Minister announced on Friday, over 5000 people have now signed sale and purchase agreements and have either moved on or have the date decided for when they will leave their Red Zone home.
Those people have carefully considered their options and taken the one that suited them best in their own personal recovery.
I can only commend those people for their at times courageous decisions. The earthquakes dealt them a very unfair blow and I am glad the Government has been able to find a way for them to move forward.
The city itself is under repair – a glance out of my office at the crane-covered skyline tells me there is progress in the CBD, although admittedly this morning it’s too foggy to see much!
There is also a $2.5 billion repair and replace work programme dealing to the infrastructure – the drinking water, waste water, sewer, laying broadband, fixing roads and footpaths.
The CBD Red Zone is shrinking. Two new routes have just reopened – Durham St and Gloucester, and over the weekend many people took the opportunity to drive, cycle and walk those roads for a new perspective on the rebuild work going on.
And of course the Irish came to town for our first rugby test since the first quake – and messy as that win was, it was still a win for All Blacks and for Christchurch. The bars and hotels and motels were full, and the extreme cold did not dampen the enthusiasm of anyone.
In the context of the vast disaster we experienced, these smaller victories are hugely important to me.
What the next 365 days of this job have in store for me personally, I look forward to finding out. There will be more victories on our journey to recovery and we won’t stop working hard to make those happen.
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority