A dramatic shift in Christchurch's population to the north and west of the city following the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 could have serious implications for Christchurch City Council.
A breakdown of the latest census results shows the city's eastern suburbs have declined by as much as 62% while areas such as Selwyn District have increased by a third.
An associate professor in property studies at Lincoln University, John McDonagh, says the movement of residents and businesses out of Christchurch will lead to a reduction in the council's rates take.
He also says movement within the city to the northern and western suburbs will make it difficult to control traffic congestion and plan the public transport system.
Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend says the eastern suburbs and central city are unlikely to attract back the same population they had before the earthquakes.
He says attempting to recreate what they had before would be a mistake.
Mr Townsend says the big goal for Canterbury should be growing the farming sector through increased irrigation, which will help sustain the Christchurch economy beyond the period of the rebuild.