2 Jul 2015

New body proposed to take over rebuild

9:45 pm on 2 July 2015

The Government is planning to set up a new body to oversee the rebuild of Christchurch, called Regenerate Christchurch, which will take over when the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority ceases to exist next year.

Christchurch construction.

Construction in Christchurch Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Prime Minister John Key today outlined a proposed approach to transfer the responsibilities of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority to other bodies.

In a speech to the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce Mr Key said new legislation would be introduced later this year to replace the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.

He said some of the functions of the authority would move into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and other aspects would be covered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry of Health and Land Information New Zealand.

Mr Key said it was proposed that a new entity called Regenerate Christchurch would be created to oversee the anchor projects and precincts.

He said an advisory board that gave advice to Cabinet on the transition plan noted the recovery was at a critical point, and needed a step-change approach.

"The Government agrees. We also agree with the board that the anchor projects and precincts must be completed in a timely and effective manner and, maybe most importantly, with greater commercial discipline."

Christchurch Labour MP Ruth Dyson said the new recovery agency was not the right step forward for the city's rebuild.

Ms Dyson, who is the MP for Port Hills, said the announcement was disappointing and it just looked like a new coat of paint on the recovery authority.

She said there had to be a sensible transition, as the last thing Christchurch needed was to lose rebuild momentum.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said she hoped the legislation to establish the new agency would also give the city council special powers.

Ms Dalziel said she was glad the plan was being put forward as a proposal that the council and the Government would develop together.

She said some special powers currently exercised by the authority could be useful for the council to have access to, such as the ability to clear abandoned building sites covered in rubble.

Timeline for handing back control

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said it would be about five years before the Government handed back full control of the city to the Christchurch City Council.

"You know, I've got quite an aversion to putting timelines in place, because people come back to me and say you didn't make your timeline. But, I'd say it'd be around a five year period."

Mr Brownlee said a further announcement would be made in September.