Canterbury economy resilient five years after earthquakes

Release date
19 February 2016

The Canterbury economy has proved resilient to the substantial destruction caused by the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, a report says in the Reserve Bank Bulletin published today.

The report, 'The Canterbury rebuild five years on from the Christchurch earthquake', provides an update on the economic progress made in the Canterbury rebuild.

Employment in construction has grown strongly, labour force participation in the region is higher than the rest of the country, and unemployment lower, the report’s authors say.

It is estimated that the total value of the rebuild will be $40 billion (in 2015 dollars). The rebuild is expected to continue for many years, with the reconstruction of commercial property yet to begin in earnest, anchor projects in the CBD still to be confirmed, and insurance claims yet to be settled.

The report says that it is important to learn from the successes and difficulties encountered in the Canterbury rebuild, in order to improve future resilience in New Zealand to such events. A number of legal issues surrounding insurance have been clarified as Canterbury recovered from the earthquakes, but the process of resolving disputes has been a factor in determining the pace of the rebuild.

As construction sector activity unwinds, other sectors will need to expand activity. In particular, activity in the tourism and education sectors remains substantially below pre-quake levels.

Note to editors:
This work is the result of collaboration between the Bank’s Economics Department and Prof Ilan Noy, EQC MPI Chair in the Economics of Disasters at Victoria University of Wellington.

Media Contact:
Mike Hannah, Head of Communications
Ph 04 471 3671, 021 497 418, mike.hannah@rbnz.govt.nz