The Greater Christchurch Regeneration Bill

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery
Friday, April 1, 2016


I am particularly pleased with the passing of the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Bill.  It passed with the unanimous support of all parties in Parliament. 

This bill is designed to deliver the step change that we are looking for—the step change from recovery to regeneration.

So much thought, so much technical advice, so many public submissions, so much select committee energy, and so much cross-party discussion to make this bill fit for purpose.

Over the last 5 years we have been through the emergency response, rebuild and replacement—but those are all reactive things. We are now looking for proactive leadership in our city to regenerate for urban development and urban renewal, with a focus on betterment.

I think that we need to make sure that we take every opportunity to make our city and its environments a better place—a better place socially, a better place culturally, a better place environmentally, and a better place economically.

The bill is also about working together, as we move on from this 5 year recovery phase, towards local control, local leadership, and local decision making.    I do not think that Christchurch will ever be the same again, we are totally committed to new ways of thinking, new ways of working, and increased innovation and collaboration.

Over the last 5 years there has been an enormous amount achieved, and much of it in a very innovative way. New organisations and methods of making things happen have really been introduced.   And in 2021 Regenerate Christchurch will become a council-controlled organisation. It will be back in local leadership.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and if that is the case, certainly Christchurch has been very inventive. I just want to give three examples of that innovation, and the way that we are thinking differently. Christchurch people are very supportive of SCIRT, the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team.  Over 90 percent of the horizontal infrastructure in Christchurch has been rebuilt in the city by the SCIRT.  It is a collaboration of five contractors, and it has become a very successful model that has been recognised internationally as best practice and it is now being implemented in other parts of the world in response to disasters.

Similarly, “EPIC”, which is the Enterprise Precinct and Innovation Campus is a cooperative enterprise that provides shared office space and mentoring support and has allowed over 20 IT and high-tech companies to cohabit in the same areas providing opportunities for those businesses to deliver synergies between them, and new ways of growing those businesses and creating jobs.

And finally, in the creative sector, Gap Filler, Greening the Rubble, and the Ministry of Awesome are all fabulous new creative solutions that have been developed by the people of Christchurch to do something different in our city, with new collaborative ways of working.

This new governance structure that the bill delivers is all about collaboration as well, and the purpose of the bill is to enable a very focused and expedient planning process towards the regeneration of our city. It recognises the local leadership of the councils—Environment Canterbury , the Christchurch City Council , the Selwyn District Council , the Waimakariri District Council , Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu —and also Regenerate Christchurch , and empowers each of those to make decisions and it provides for more community input into those decisions, and into the development of regeneration plans.

Regenerate Christchurch, is the new entity created by the bill, and it is a seven-member board jointly appointed by the Christchurch City Council and the Crown, with one member nominated by Ngāi Tahu.

It will be the vehicle to drive this new collaboration and regeneration, and to transit the city back to business-as-usual within those 5 years.

But, I think the challenge for all of us is to support this structure, this collaborative structure, and to put aside any petty politics that we have, to discard any patch protection, and to swallow up any individual organisational focus, and have one ultimate test for all decision making .

That test should be: is this good for the people of Christchurch?

Is this good for the future of our city and its environments?.

And I believe that we can answer these questions positively, and if our decisions are evidence-based and solutions-focused, I think we will get the right outcomes going forward.

This bill is an empowering framework. It underpins that step change that we are all looking for, and I think it is a framework that can inspire and encourage Christchurch people to get out there, to engage, and to actively work to create the city that we want, and I think it is very clear, the city that we want.

We want it to be safe. We want it to be beautiful. We want it to be people-friendly, vibrant, and sustainable. We want it to be a place full of opportunity, a place that attracts all generations, so that there is somewhere for all of us to live, to work, and to play.

I really look forward to working with everybody in this House, the stakeholders, the new organisations, and the communities—all the communities—that make up Greater Christchurch as we embrace this next stage of our journey, and our city regenerates for the future

Part of my work as Associate Minister of Earthquake Recover is around the restoration and enhancement of the Te Papa Otakaro/Avon River precinct, and you can read about the punt stop, the community BBQ area and story time at the Margaret Mahy playground in their latest newsletter here.