New Zealand marks five years since devastating earthquake

This blog post was written by Zared Wall-Manning

Monday marked five years since the Christchurch earthquake of 22 February 2011. In memory of this tragedy, people in the city of Christchurch and around New Zealand observed one minute’s silence at 12.51pm.

The subsequent response and recovery efforts have had a significant impact on the New Zealand economy. To date 90% of insurance claims have been settled (totalling some $17 billion across the residential and commercial spheres). The earthquake and its effects have been said to exceed the size of any other natural disaster, as a proportion of GDP.

Housing in particular has represented a significant challenge for the city. The Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service (CETAS) has helped over 6,500 households to find temporary accommodation, and over $55 million of financial assistance has been given to over 3200 households. Housing New Zealand and its Repair 5000 programme completed 27,000 emergency repairs. Examples of the housing efforts in Canterbury include a plan to build 163 houses as a result of a partnership between the government and the Canterbury Community Trust. The partnership provided some $31 million in grants to go towards social housing and affordable housing, which are expected to be completed in September 2016.

The efforts to help Cantabrians and the Christchurch housing market recover from the earthquakes have not been without difficulty. The Government has been criticised for the pace of the recovery and the availability of housing. It was also announced this week that Stonewood Homes New Zealand has gone into receivership. The company owns the Stonewood Franchise for Christchurch, but the receivers have stressed that the receiverships do not affect any of the independently owned Stonewood franchises throughout the country. Fortunately for affected consumers, all Stonewood Christchurch homeowners had Master Build Guarantees which should ensure that their homes are completed.

The inevitable grief and stress over the past five years following the February 2011 earthquake has been a cause of much reflection for New Zealanders in recent days. Housing has been a topical and challenging issue for Cantabrians and is likely to be a source of much debate and discussion for some time.

An interesting speech ‘Disaster & Resilience’ presented by Justice Kós  at the Supreme & Federal Courts Judges Conference in Brisbane in January summarises a number of important judicial decisions relating to the Christchurch earthquakes. Find a copy here.

Christchurch

Photo credit – Lesina Walker

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