Section 1: What is the Recovery Strategy?

He aha te Mahere Haumanutanga?

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He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata!
What is the most important thing in this world? It is people, it is people, it is people!

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1.1 Why have a Recovery Strategy?

Greater Christchurch has a population of just under 460,000 people, and it includes New Zealand’s second largest city. It is the gateway to the South Island, and is its most significant centre of economic activity. The series of earthquakes that began in September 2010, especially the 22 February 2011 earthquake, caused significant death and injury, seriously damaged buildings, infrastructure and services, and continues to disrupt the lives of people in the greater Christchurch area.

Much of greater Christchurch functions effectively and safely and is open for business. The international airport and Lyttelton’s sea port remain busy. Businesses have relocated, schools have shared facilities, and temporary housing has been constructed. Despite ongoing significant aftershocks, the city is now moving out of the immediate response phase, where the emphasis was on meeting people’s basic needs, demolishing unsafe buildings and determining which areas are suitable for rebuilding. It is important to look to the future and coordinate the efforts of all the organisations and individuals helping greater Christchurch to rebuild and recover. Opportunities for investment, innovation and job creation need to be maximised, and the wellbeing of the community should be kept at the heart of the recovery.

Achieving recovery will be a joint effort between the public and private sectors, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the wider community. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) is coordinating the rebuilding and recovery of greater Christchurch through an efficient and effective programme of action involving local and central government; iwi; businesses; community groups and individuals; land owners and developers; housebuilders; infrastructure providers; and the insurance and finance sectors. As part of this coordination and leadership role, CERA is required to develop a Recovery Strategy. This overarching, long-term Strategy will guide the reconstruction, rebuilding and recovery of greater Christchurch (see sections 11–15 of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery (CER) Act).

1.2 Purpose of the Recovery Strategy

This Recovery Strategy is the key reference document that guides and coordinates the programmes of work, including Recovery Plans, under the CER Act.

The Strategy sets out a shared vision and the Government’s overall approach to recovery. It:

  • defines what “recovery” means for greater Christchurch;
  • establishes principles to guide how CERA and other agencies will work together towards recovery;
  • describes in broad terms the pace and phases of recovery;
  • identifies work programmes, and which organisations will lead specific projects;
  • identifies priorities for recovery efforts;
  • sets up governance structures to oversee and coordinate the work programmes and links them to wider initiatives; and
  • commits to measuring and reporting on progress towards recovery.

The Strategy aims to:

  • provide overall direction to all those individuals and organisations who have a role in recovery activities;
  • coordinate recovery activities by helping individuals and organisations to identify the interests they have in common and to understand they need to work together in their recovery activities;
  • give the community confidence that recovery is well-planned and progressing; and
  • take every opportunity to restore, renew and revitalise and enhance greater Christchurch.

The Recovery Strategy will help guide and coordinate decisions on rebuilding in the short term while more detailed recovery programmes and plans are being developed.

When the CER Act was passed in April 2011, it was thought that the Recovery Strategy might address:

  1. the areas where rebuilding or other redevelopment may or may not occur, and the possible sequencing of rebuilding or other redevelopment;
  2. the location of existing and future infrastructure and the possible sequencing of repairs, rebuilding, and reconstruction;
  3. the kind of Recovery Plans that may need to be developed and the relationship between the plans; and
  4. any additional matters to be addressed by Recovery Plans, and who should lead their development.

The Strategy has not been able to address all of these issues, partly because of ongoing seismic activity. It is also a huge and complex task to make decisions about land zoning and the location and timing of rebuilding. Similarly, it is not yet clear where Recovery Plans – which are statutory documents with the power to overwrite a range of planning instruments – will be the most appropriate and effective way to provide direction. The Recovery Strategy therefore focuses on identifying work programmes which will make it easier to see where Recovery Plans are needed.

1.3 Status and effect of the Recovery Strategy

The Strategy’s approach to recovery will guide and coordinate the work of all central government agencies involved in recovery activities, and the strategic partners. The Strategy applies to greater Christchurch, which under the CER Act means the districts of the Christchurch City Council, the Selwyn District Council and the Waimakariri District Council. It also includes the coastal marine area next to these districts.

Under section 15 of the CER Act, the Recovery Strategy is also a statutory document that will be read together with, and forms part of, certain documents created under other Acts (that apply to any area in greater Christchurch).

The following documents and instruments, as they relate to greater Christchurch, must not be interpreted or applied in a way that is inconsistent with the Recovery Strategy (see sections 15 and 26 (2) of the CER Act available on the CERA website):

  • regional policy statement, regional plans, and city and district plans (Resource Management Act);
  • annual plans, long-term plans, and triennial agreements (Local Government Act);
  • regional land transport strategies, regional land transport programmes and NZTA recommendations for Police activities under section 18I (Land Transport Management Act);
  • regional public transport plans under section 9 (Public Transport Management Act); and
  • general policies, conservation management strategies, conservation management plans and management plans (Conservation, Reserves and Wildlife Acts).

These documents come from Environment Canterbury, Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District Council, Waimakariri District Council, New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and the Department of Conservation. If they are inconsistent with the Recovery Strategy in any way, the Recovery Strategy prevails.

Only sections 3 to 8 of this document are the statutory Recovery Strategy. The rest of the document provides additional information. It covers the context for the strategy, governance arrangements, financial and funding issues, and the programmes of work through which the Strategy will be implemented.

Earlier laws have already set down general expectations and obligations for public sector organisations. For example, legislation already covers the Treaty of Waitangi, sustainable management (in the Resource Management Act) and sustainable development (the Local Government Act). The Strategy deliberately does not repeat these existing provisions, or introduce new general obligations that are not directly related to the recovery.

Map of greater Christchurch

Map of greater Christchurch.

1.4 Components of recovery

Diagram showing the components of recovery. The Strategy contains six components of recovery. These are:

  • leadership and integration research and information, communication, funding and finance, and the governance, coordination and project management of recovery activities
  • economic recovery investment, businesses, labour, and insurance liaison
  • social recovery education, health, and community support services
  • cultural recovery the arts, culture, heritage buildings and places, and sports and recreation
  • built environment land use, housing, buildings, transport, infrastructure
  • natural environment air quality, biodiversity, the coast, land, groundwater and surface water quality, and natural hazards

The components all link together so should be read as a whole. For successful recovery there must be leadership and integration across the five other components, with the community central to all.

Section 4 of this Strategy sets out goals for each of the six components of recovery. Recovery programmes contain the detailed actions and methods for achieving those goals. They deal with the recovery of our houses, streets, neighbourhoods, communities, businesses, education, the arts, sports and recreation, heritage, the natural environment and other aspects of life in greater Christchurch. CERA is coordinating the development of the recovery programmes, as well as of their plans and activities.

Sections 12–17 of this document summarise these programmes. For more information on the programmes and how to participate in their development, visit the CERA website.

1.5 Development of the Recovery Strategy

The Recovery Strategy was developed in consultation with the strategic partners: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the Christchurch City Council, Selwyn and Waimakariri District Councils and Environment Canterbury. Government agencies and the wider community were also consulted. Lessons and outcomes from strategic planning previously undertaken by local government agencies, central government initiatives and community and private sector actions have both informed and now complement the direction in this Recovery Strategy.

Hundreds of specific ideas, suggestions and feedback have helped create this document. In developing the draft Recovery Strategy, meetings with communities and stakeholders were held in June and July 2011. Then in September and October 2011 CERA invited people to respond in writing to the draft Strategy. Four hundred and sixty three written comments were received over seven weeks. CERA worked with government agencies and strategic partners to consider this feedback and make recommendations for changes.

Respondents showed general support for the vision and principles of the draft Recovery Strategy. The level of support for the different goals proposed in the draft Recovery Strategy varied. Some asked for strong leadership, better communication, more attention to the natural environment and opportunities to stay involved in the recovery. Other concerns related to insurance and the need to quickly attract investment. Many respondents prioritised community wellbeing and sport and recreational opportunities. All comments have been summarised and analysed. They are now informing the direction and content of all the recovery programmes and plans being developed.