A MOST AMBITIOUS PROJECT
Rebuilding central Christchurch is one of the most ambitious projects in New Zealand’s history. The post-earthquake recovery gives us the chance to make a new, even better central city, and the Government is fully committed to realizing this vision in partnership with local government, iwi, businesses, investors, non-governmental organisations and the community.
There are also compelling economic reasons to invest in recovery. Canterbury generates about 12 per cent of the national gross domestic product (GDP), and the productivity of Christchurch is key to the prosperity of the wider Canterbury region. Over 70 per cent of Canterbury’s economic output comes from activities in greater Christchurch. Its historical strengths in many high-value sectors mean the city can contribute substantially to New Zealand’s economic growth, and must continue to do so.
Christchurch already has many of the features of successful international cities. It is home to the South Island’s biggest hospital, two universities and seven Crown Research Institutes. It is a key strategic point in the national transport network. Its airport and seaport – the busiest in the South Island – play a major role in getting goods to market, and as a tourism gateway to the South Island.
Despite earthquake damage, the economy continues to perform well, and the underlying physical and social infrastructure remains strong. Christchurch is still particularly well placed to continue to contribute significantly to the na tional economy.
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The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) is the agency established by the Government of New Zealand to lead and coordinate the ongoing recovery effort following the devastating earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011. CERA is supporting a range of organisations in making well-coordinated and timely decisions. It aims to help restore the social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being of greater Christchurch communities.
NOT SIMPLY A RESTORATION EFFORT
The vision is for central Christchurch to become the thriving heart of an inter national city. It will draw on its rich natural and cultural heritage, and the skills and passion of its people, to embrace opportunities for innovation and growth. Redevelopment will acknowledge the past and the events that have shaped the city, while reflecting the best of the new.
The rebuild effort does not only involve the city of Christchurch alone. The recovery strategy has statutory effect which means it now forms part of many other existing planning documents relating to Greater Christchurch. What this means is that the districts of the Christchurch City Council, the Selwyn District Council, the Waimakariri District Council and the coastal marine area adjacent to these districts are all part of that strategy. It’s huge!
Recovery is not simply restoring what we had before the earthquakes, but making an even better city – which includes improving the social, economic, cul tural and environmental wellbeing of greater Christchurch and its communities. Redeveloping the central city is a key part of this recovery. The Plan also com mits significant resources to develop central Christchurch into a vibrant, well-formed centre that responds to the needs not just of our generation, but also of those that follow.
The Christchurch Central Recovery Plan builds on the Christchurch City Coun cil’s draft Central City Plan. During public consultation on that draft, the com munity submitted over 106,000 ideas. People said they wanted a greener central city with buildings that contributed more strongly to the city’s identity. They wanted a more compact, high-quality, low-rise buildings city centre with new pedestrian lanes, courtyards and green areas as part of the rebuild, unlocking the potential of underdeveloped areas of the Central City where small businesses can also thrive by connecting spaces that support a wider range of activities making it easier to get around and thus enriching people’s experience of the Central City.
IT IS PEOPLE THAT MATTER MOST
The design concept for the Recovery Plan is the development of a greener, more accessible city with a compact core and a stronger built identity. It will also be a city for all people and cultures.
To be successful the rebuild of Christchurch must have people at its heart. It is the people that matter most. One of the great positives that have followed the earthquakes has been these new connections with people and organisations right across the region. This is the base from which New Zealand will rebuild Christ church.
To keep and attract skilled people from within New Zealand and those still living abroad, Christchurch needs to offer the facilities, services and amenities ex pected in any similar city around the world. But above all, it must provide a comprehensive set of holistic programmes for migrant relocation, settlement and support which, as of this writing, is still unclear even as rebuild proposals are in line with international benchmarks for a major city.
Building on these themes and as the Christchurch recovery plan sets out how this vision can be achieved, the planners and movers need to take a step back to evaluate more carefully whether all that planning really takes into consideration all the needs of the very people who will be involved in the recovery and rebuild of Christchurch as a 21st century city where all can live, work, play, learn, stay and invest in.
GETTING IT RIGHT THIS TIME
We know from experience and stories that people tell us that New Zealand’s skills-focused immigration policy is only good at getting the right set and mix of immigrants to all line up eagerly at the arrival gates even at their considerable expense. But once they cross it, the newcomers dumb-founded to discover that they are left pretty much on their own and as a result spend months, and in a few cases years, just trying to get settled in nicely.
CERA is facilitating the Labour Market Programme along with stakeholders. Its purpose is to ensure that citizens have high-value employment opportunities and a skilled workforce is available to support business and growth. The programme will retain, attract, educate and train the skilled workforce needed for the rebuild and ongoing economic growth. It will also identify and remove any obstacles or barriers to the labor supply required for the rebuild. It is part of CERA’s economic goals ensuring a range of employment options to attract and retain a high-calibre, appropriately skilled workforce which also aligns provision of education and training to support long-term economic growth.
Integrated and community-led initiatives can help people to cope with stress and uncertainty. These initiatives can also minimize hardship, inequity and un necessary disruption to housing, education and health services. As well as assist ance, government and non-government health and social service providers are investigating how to reorient services and better reach out to people in need.
NO MONOPOLY OF GOOD IDEAS
While social service NGOs based in Christchurch may be thinking of developing new ways of working and delivering services not all of them hold a monopoly of good ideas and will need help from other NGOs and service providers who are not based in that city in further developing and fine-tuning their programmes.
Considering that the rebuild effort will need a workforce of 30,000 individuals with new skills and competencies for long-term recovery, you can’t just pick them all out from thin air at one go and then expect them to perform their work effectively without attending to their own wellbeing, personal living require ments, and the needs of their own family members.
At the very onset, the rebuild and recovery plan must involve and integrate clear paths towards delivering community, health, education, social and other settlement support services that are collaborative, accessible, innovative and inclusive. It must have focus on supporting people, in particular those facing hardship and uncertainty, by providing quality housing, transport options, education, health and a range of other social services; and supporting individuals as they go through the difficult processes of settlement.
The key to addressing these issues is perhaps simply to understand that assim ilation is not the same as integration even as both are crucial pieces of com pleting the jigsaw puzzle. Being ‘assimilated’ means that people of different cultural backgrounds eventually come to see themselves as part of a larger national family. On the other hand, being ‘integrated’ means bringing into equal participation in and giving equal consideration to their unique needs and aspirations. Both words as terms hold important and equal weight in fashioning settlement programmes that actually does work.
So, if there is today an enormous and growing need for skilled people and resources we shouldn’t drop the ball this time around because just as Prime Minister Key has said, “ … the redevelopment and rebuild of Christchurch is important not just for residents and businesses, but to the rest of the country” as well.
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