In February 2011, a devastating earthquake struck New Zealand’s second-largest city of Christchurch, located in the country’s Canterbury region. Tragically, the earthquake killed 181 people, while also causing severe damage to buildings and infrastructure already weakened by a previous quake in 2010. The cost of the damage from the earthquake and aftershocks has been estimated at around NZ$40 billion, making it New Zealand’s costliest natural disaster ever.
In the immediate aftermath, PwC New Zealand was engaged by the newly-formed Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) to lead and coordinate the recovery efforts. This role has seen us undertake a wide variety of work for many organisations across Canterbury, with our Christchurch office receiving active and enthusiastic support from most of our other offices throughout New Zealand.
We began by seconding two directors to CERA itself to help set the organisation up – a move that helped us gain insights into the challenges ahead. This work included advising on a financial blueprint, investor engagement and the business cases for anchor projects, one of which is a new Convention Centre in Christchurch.
We also acted as financial advisors on land acquisitions, developed joint risk management frameworks, and helped with a proposal to the Commerce Commission for an increase in electricity line charges to cover repairs to the power network.
Restoring public transport was a key priority after the earthquake, and this was another area in which we were involved, providing a due diligence report on the landscape of Christchurch including public transport planning. We developed a dedicated Christchurch Rebuild page on the PwC website, focusing on the risks for companies associated with the reconstruction efforts. We also engaged with construction firms involved in the work, as well as providing ongoing support to businesses dealing with business interruption claims. Insurance assessments were a further focus, and we developed proposals to reduce the risks of fraud.
“The rebuild is clearly an emotional and sensitive time for the people of Christchurch – and we’ve done our best to make the project run as smoothly as possible, by providing resources from across our offices and sharing our expertise with a wide array of businesses”, says Wayne Munn, PwC New Zealand partner responsible for the Christchurch office.
“We’ve also helped with the governance of the anchor projects. Most of these are currently underway, but we’ve recently been awarded roles as advisors to the Transport Interchange design-build contract (DBC) and Stage 2 of the Convention Centre DBC.”