Canterbury five years on: a time to reflect and look forward

Christchurch Central Electorate
Monday, February 22, 2016

As we mark the fifth anniversary of Christchurch’s earthquake, we can reflect on how far we’ve come and continue to look forward.

The region has bounced back remarkably. Since 2011 Christchurch’s economy has grown by 14.1 per cent and the region boasts the lowest unemployment rate. The Government continues to invest in the region with projects like the ICT Graduate School and the Innovation Hub either opened or opening soon.

Christchurch is benefitting from a $180 million investment in ultra-fast broadband (UFB) to make it a smart, sustainable place to live and do business in. So far 56 per cent of the roll out is completed, all 154 schools are able to connect to UFB, as well as 90 per cent of local businesses and over 17,500 are already connected.

We are investing $1.137 billion in renewing, repairing or rebuilding 115 Christchurch schools. That’s great news for students who will benefit from a new state-of-the-art education network which will be the most modern in the country. The resilience and determination of students, teachers and parents is paying dividends as achievement in the region continues to rise.

It’s good to see the city’s housing network nearing recovery five years on. Some of our most vulnerable Cantabrians were particularly hard hit, so Housing New Zealand invested $350 million repairing 5100 homes and rebuilding 700. There has also been over $55 million paid out in temporary accommodation support which we have extended through to December 2017.

A lot of work has been done to support those most in need. In Budget 2014 we invested $13.5 million to support psychosocial services. So far over 50,000 free counselling sessions have been provided to help people deal with the trauma of the quakes.

We have supported the DHB with more funding to meet an increase in demand for mental health services since the earthquakes. An extra $86 million was provided to the DHB over and above its usual population based funding.

The new hospital at Burwood should be completed around the middle of the year and the new Acute Services Building at Christchurch Hospital is scheduled to open in 2018.

We’ve come a long way – most insurance claims are resolved, most of the demolitions are done, Anchor Projects are progressing well and most of the infrastructure repairs are complete.

Five years on the people of Christchurch are bouncing back and the city’s future looks bright.