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Risk Management Seminar - “Rising from the Rubble: How Is Christchurch, New Zealand Managing Its Earthquake Recovery?

  On December 18, CAMPUS-Asia Program organized a Risk Management Seminar on “Rising from the Rubble: How is Christchurch, New Zealand Managing its Earthquake Recovery?” delivered by Professor Elizabeth Toomey, School of Law, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. Her presentation highlighted how the Canterbury community/residents and the central government responded to the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. She says both tragedies that took everybody by shock and caused standard structure problems such as: no reticulated water supply, no power, leaking roof, sewage in house and garden, no sewerage system-no flushing toilet, and dangerous looking chimney.

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  These sad events compelled government to enact new statues and emergency legislations code named ‘The Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Statute 2010’ and ‘Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011’ with the purpose to ensure that the Canterbury community responds to and recovers from the impact of the earthquakes and to ensure a focused, timely and expedited recovery. She says the ‘recovery strategy and recovery plans’ were a good element of public participation but still the statutes gave the Minister of Earthquake the powers to change or withdraw whole part of the plan or strategy. Besides, the Canterbury Earthquake Commission (EQC) was partly responsible for assessing the damage and compensating for residential houses in the city. As one major response, there was zoning of Christchurch into Multi-coloured city having 6 zones (i.e. Red, Orange, White, Green, Green-Blue and Green-Blue-Blue). Safety assessments were conducted and conditions imposed on each and every zone. For instance, residents in red zone were offered money to relocate while Green-blue zone was declared safe for residents.
  She discussed that, in the event under Act 2011, government had the power to acquire the land and/or the buildings, leaving the house owner to negotiate/pay house premium to insurer and EQC. Under the recovery plan and through Christchurch city Development Unit, government moved to acquire 761 individual privately-owned lots to develop new city precincts through: compulsory acquisition of the land/buildings, paying based on the value of the day and mostly buying off many buildings at less than half the valuation costs. The compensation came along with not only actual losses but other losses such as: consequence of the regulatory change arising from the operation of the Act 2011, cancellation of the existing resource consent that has already been exercised, cancellation of an existing use right, economic or consequential loss and business interruption, respectively.
  She emphasized that despite the urgent call for the swift response to the devastating earthquake, the whole Canterbury recovery plan and compensation efforts had some flaws and there were several grounds for review especially in relation to: use of power for unauthorized purposes; misapplication of statutory power; depriving the parties of a fundamental right of access to the courts, and taking relevant considerations into account. She ended her speech with “where to from here and what can Christchurch learn from the Kobe recovery?”

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