28 Sep 2016

Earthquake Commission CEO to step down

12:50 pm on 28 September 2016

Earthquake Commission (EQC) chief executive Ian Simpson has announced he will be stepping down from the role at the end of the year.

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson is to take up a new role as chief executive of GNS Science. Photo: RNZ / Maja Burry

Commission chairman Sir Maarten Wevers said Mr Simpson would be leaving the organisation to take up the chief executive position at Crown research institute, GNS Science.

Since the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, the government agency responsible for providing natural disaster insurance to residential property owners has settled about 67,000 green zoned land claims and 187,000 contents claims in the region.

The commission has also faced criticism from earthquake-affected residents over a range of issues, including the damage-assessment work done by staff, the time taken to settle claims and the quality of repair work.

The Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission, Gerry Brownlee, said Mr Simpson should be commended.

Mr Brownlee said he was grateful to Mr Simpson for the commitment he had shown over the past six years, despite considerable, but equally undue, criticism.

Earlier this year, Mr Simpson announced the Earthquake Commission was proposing to reduce by almost half the number of staff in its offices nationwide by 2017 as work in Canterbury wound down.

Sir Marteen said Mr Simpson joined EQC as chief executive in 2010, and his contribution had been significant

"Ian's leadership of EQC since 4 September 2010 has been outstanding.

"As so many others did, he stepped up as a leader to deal with the very difficult circumstances of the time," Sir Marteen said.

In the past, there has been outcry from community groups over Mr Simpson's salary.

In 2012 he was earning about about $400,000 per year.

Sir Marteen said during Mr Simpson's term EQC had been required to confront the most significant challenges since its establishment in 1945.

He said the search for a replacement for Mr Simpson would begin shortly.

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