The Government has announced that 9,700 homes on Christchurch's Port Hills have been re-zoned from white to green, meaning they are suitable for repair and rebuilding.
The announcement was made at a post-Cabinet news conference in Christchurch. It was the first time in 16 years that Cabinet had met outside Wellington.
Maps released in June divided the city into four residential zones - red, orange, white and green.
Properties in the white zone, such as those in the Port Hills, had not been fully mapped or were not residential and the move to green means the homes are suitable for repair and rebuild.
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says that within the newly classified green zones there will be some properties that have land damage which may require further geotechnical assessment before building or rebuilding can occur.
He said these would be deal with by EQC and insurance companies under normal insurance processes.
Another 3,700 properties remain in the white zone as further investigation is needed.
Mr Brownlee said more Port Hills land would be rezoned green soon, once further investigation and assessment had been made.
People can go to the website www.landcheck.org.nz to see which zones their property falls into.
Greg Brown, whose Mount Pleasant house is being demolished, says it is a relief to know he can rebuild on the same site.
Mr Brown says the announcement was the progress his family has been waiting for.
Scale of liquefaction 'unprecedented'
During the Cabinet meeting, ministers were brief by local mayors, engineers, the Earthquake Commission and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.
One of the companies that briefed the Cabinet was engineering firm, Tonkin & Taylor.
The company has been assessing and mapping land damage in Canterbury since the first earthquake, a year ago.
Managing director Doug Johnson says the scale of urban liquefaction in Canterbury following the region's earthquakes is unprecedented, worldwide.
He says repeated aftershocks continue to cause silt and flooding through liquefaction, which makes it very difficult to get repairs underway.