The Christchurch Rebuild-1




There were about 2,000 Filipinos living in Christchurch before the ground gave way beneath them in Lyttelton – the epicentre just 10-km southeast of Christ church. It was Tuesday 22 February 2011 at 12:51 PM.


Many lives were tragically lost and thousands of homes and buildings destroyed during the second Christchurch earthquake. At 6.3-magnitude on the Richter scale, it was not as powerful as the earlier magnitude-7.1 earthquake of 04 September 2010. But the Lyttleton earth-shaking episode occurred on a fault line that was shallow and close to the city. So the shaking was more violent and des tructive. Deadly, to be more precise.


In the aftermath, some of the more iconic buildings in Christchurch and its suburbs crumbled – the Anglican Christchurch Cathedral, the Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, the Provincial Council Chambers and Lyttelton’s Time ball Station.


The CTV Building was another casualty, but with a difference. It housed an English Language school where many young students from other lands were at tending class. The final death toll of the second quake was 185 people but 116 people were killed in this building alone. Eleven of them were Filipinos.


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Source: Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) and licensed by MCDEM for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand Licence.




The 2010 and 2011 earthquakes struck one of New Zealand’s oldest cities, a community with deep ties to the land, the environment and each other. The devastation was widespread, especially in the city’s centre. Some have ques tioned whether central Christchurch could ever be the same again. It won’t be. If the rebuild plan is executed properly, it will probably be even better.


Naturally, the plan can only be as good as it sounds on paper at this early stage but nothing else unless some solid funding is behind it from different sources. For starters, the NZ Treasury estimates the direct cost to the Government of the two earthquakes is about $5.5-billion, which will be fully provided for in the 2012-13 Budget issued earlier in May this year.


About $3-billion of this budget relates to the National Government’s share of local government infrastructure, roads, insurance excesses on schools and hospitals, temporary housing, land remediation agreed after the September quake, demolition costs in Christchurch’s CBD, Accident Compensation Corpo ration (ACC) costs and the business support package. In addition, the direct cost of Earthquake Commission New Zealand (EQC) of meeting residential property damage of the two quakes will be at least $3-billion, making a total direct cost to Government of around $8.5-billion. That’s just the national government’s share of the funding pie.


Before the earthquakes, the Christchurch City Council spent $20-million a year just on road repairs and underground pipes and services. The organization doing that work now for the Council is spending $40-million a month, and will likely do so for the next five years. Ratepayers in Christchurch are expected to contribute as well and there are also investment packages being developed for private in vestors.


As of now at least, the total bill to rebuild Christchurch funder from different streams is now only starting to emerge and a more definitive estimate will come about after authorities have completed their assessments and analysis of the damage wrought by the earthquakes which should be completed before end of this year.




The Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (SCIRT) – which is made up of local people from many organisations, is the entity responsible for re building the horizontal infrastructure requirements in Christchurch only but it expects its portion of the rebuild to take 5- to 7-years. SCIRT is only now just beginning to ramp up its capability for work that coming up ahead. It expects the level of that work to peak in about two years but it also projects that the level of work will be maintained from year’s three to five, then begin to taper off slowly in years six and seven.


To better appreciate the skilled labour-related requirements of the massive rebuild effort, Roger Sutton – head of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), has reported that “ … in the CBD over 1,000 buildings have already been taken down and that is making way for new construction which is already underway. It will be a long process, and if we don’t have people, we don’t have a rebuild. So we need to keep people at the absolute forefront of our minds. As for attracting people to Christchurch in the near future, the rebuild will need a workforce of 30,000 and we anticipate many of those will decide to stay and enjoy what an exciting and vibrant new city we are creating.”


So, it’s not just the construction sector that will be involved in the Christchurch rebuild. The skills shortage lists will also spill over to other sectors that include: Agriculture & Forestry, Education, Engineering, Finance/Business, Health & Social Services, ICT & Electronics, Oil & Gas, Recreation, Hospitality & Tourism, Science, Telecommunications, Trades and the Transport sectors.


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The role of the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) in New Zealand is to lead the rebuild of Christchurch central. The CCDU is part of the Canterbury Earth quake Recovery Authority (CERA) and is tasked with delivering the vision in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan for a distinctive, vibrant and green 21st century city.




Christchurch is New Zealand’s second largest city. It is also one of its oldest and the South Island’s largest. It is home to 377,000 people, who have a strong connection to the region. Known as the ‘Garden City’, it holds a special place in New Zealand’s culture and heritage.


The experience of other cities after a natural disaster reveals that substantial redevelopment must start within three years if recovery is to be successful. One year has already passed. Speed is of the essence and it now seems apparent that the pace is accelerating.


History teaches us that no matter where it may happen, disaster and opportunity can lie close together. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, for instance, was a devastating tragedy but from it emerged one of the most beautiful and dynamic cities in the world. The energy of that rebuild was incredible – over 20,000 new buildings were constructed in a few short years. It set the stage for a century of growth.

Go to: Part 2

Related Story: Don’t Grieve For Me


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Filed under Community News, Filipinos in Christchurch, Filipinos in New Zealand, Migrant Issues, Public Service, Special Feature

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