Earthquake recovery six months on

  • Nathan Guy
Civil Defence

Recovery activity is progressing well after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on 14 November, six months ago this Sunday, says Minister of Civil Defence Nathan Guy.

“The complex series of earthquakes ruptured 21 fault lines and rocked the top of the South Island and bottom of the North. Geonet reported that land movements and shaking were amongst the strongest in New Zealand ever and there was damage to homes, infrastructure, roads, rail and land,” says Mr Guy.

“In the six months since there has been a massive whole-of-government approach to supporting communities in their recovery with new funding of around $860 million. As part of this a National Recovery Manager is tasked with coordinating and supporting recovery activities across government.

“We are committed to reinstating the coastal road and rail route to the north and south of Kaikōura, the cost for which will be between $1.1 and $1.33 billion.

“More than $17.5 million from the Earthquake Support Subsidy was provided to 862 businesses in Kaikōura, Wellington, and Marlborough and Hurunui districts. This has helped businesses retain and pay staff while they transition back to business as usual.

“The Government is providing $5.7m funding to restore the Kaikōura harbour to full functionality. It’s great operators Whale Watch Kaikōura and Encounter Kaikōura are putting an extra $900,000 into this. That means the harbour can be made better than it was before and allow for future expansion of the harbour for larger boats.

“The harbour deepening work is nearly complete and it should be fully operational by October, ready for the tourist season.

“The earthquake hit Kaikōura’s tourism business hard - half of its hotels, motels, backpackers and holiday parks were closed in December 2016.

“The Government is helping here with a $870,000 support package to support tourism in Kaikōura and the other upper South Island districts. Much of the funding will go towards starting a strong overseas marketing push so Kaikōura is included in visitor itineraries for next summer. This is in addition to the $350,000 tourism relief package the Government provided Hurunui and Hanmer Springs in late 2016.

“$4.26 million has gone towards a health services package for North Canterbury and Marlborough providing for free visits, mental health services, additional health practitioners, support for Marlborough schools and rural health and support trusts, and paying the balance of Kaikōura’s Health Te Ha o Te Ora health centre.

“People needing housing while their homes are being repaired or replaced after the earthquake have been helped by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Temporary Accommodation Service.

“EQC received around 38,000 residential claims for damage caused by the November earthquake, mostly for building damage in Christchurch, Wellington, North Canterbury and Marlborough. The good news is that EQC and insurers are working towards making the majority of building and contents settlement offers by the end of 2017.

“The earthquake thrust a substantial part of Kaikōura’s rocky reef above the low tide level, destroying over 20% of the pāua habitat. The ban on collecting shellfish and seaweed (excluding crayfish) until 20 November 2017 will allow the pāua to regenerate. A $2 million package is helping investigate the impact of the earthquakes on these fisheries.

“The Earthquake Relief Fund is providing $4 million for uninsurable infrastructure repairs in the Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough districts affecting farmers and others in the primary sector.

“A new $5 million fund announced today will also provide further support for the primary sector.

“So many people have worked incredibly hard to support their neighbours and communities over the last six months and I want to acknowledge these efforts.”

The total cost to government of the Kaikoura earthquakes continues to evolve but currently is still expected to be in the order of $2 to $3 billion.

Other Government support following the Kaikōura earthquake

  • A Government grant of $2.6 million for the Hurunui and Kaikōura districts to repair waste facilities, recycle earthquake debris and manage hazardous waste.
  • $2.5 million in funding over three years to help local councils shoulder the increased workload from building consents, planning and hazard management.
  • $3 million towards the Government’s new requirement for owners of around 300 unreinforced masonry buildings on busy routes to secure their street-facing parapets and facades.
  • Funding of $3 million to enhance New Zealand’s natural hazards monitoring capability and response service.
  • Funding for a pilot of a free and independent advisory service to help North Canterbury residents with insurance claims.
  • $500,000 for three rural recovery coordinators on the ground and another $500,000 additional funding for the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust.
  • An additional $1 million business grant programme for the Business Recovery Grant Programme for quake-affected businesses in Kaikōura, Hurunui and Marlborough.
  • The Canterbury and Nelson Marlborough District Health Boards have reprioritised their budgets to provide extra services for people in affected areas.