Disruption impacts on central government productivity

Improving economic model estimates of central government productivity losses.

Initial findings


In the first part of this project, the research team examined the productivity impact of the 14 November 2016 Kaikoura earthquake on four New Zealand Government agencies based in Wellington.

The Kaikoura earthquakes took Wellington by surprise.  Tens of thousands of Wellington workers were affected, many of these in Government departments which had to be relocated for an extended period due to damaged buildings.

  • All the organisations in our study temporarily lost access to their buildings. Some were required to relocate staff for extended periods of time.
  • Infrastructure outages in Wellington were limited and did not result in significant disruptions for Government agencies in the study.
  • Every organisation experienced reductions in both input (i.e., labour hours) and output.  However all four organisations reached ‘business as usual’ levels of productivity within days or weeks of the earthquake.
Download the full report

Project overview

Current economic models used to assess the impact of disruptions on urban centres are not well calibrated to model the impacts of disruption on central government services. However, disruption to critical government services can have cascade impacts throughout the economy, ranging from disruption to social welfare services, tax/revenue collection, and social services (education, health, justice), to disruption of professional and other services that support government function. Even a small change in government productivity could have a resulting large economic impact. 

Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, is particularly susceptible to disruption by a major earthquake event. This project looks at the impact of the 2016 Kaikoura, New Zealand, earthquake on central government productivity in Wellington. The project looks at the impact of the event through a series of case studies and data analysis. Data collected will be used to create a model of central government productivity impacts following disruption, for application within MERIT. Once developed, the new model will be applied to an economic impact analysis of Alpine Fault earthquake scenario.

Key contact

Joanne Stevenson

Senior Research Consultant
Resilient Organisations Ltd
e : [email protected]

Project team

Charlotte Brown

Resilient Organisations

Nicky Smith

Market Economics

John Vargo

Resilient Organisations

Garry McDonald

Market Economics

Wendy Saunders

GNS Science

Ilan Noy

Victoria University of Wellington

Our funders

This project is funded by Natural Hazards Research Platform, QuakeCoRE and the Economics of Resilient Infrastructure project.








Project outcomes

The Impact of the 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake on Government Productivity in Wellington (NZ).  Kaylene Sampson, Joanne Stevenson, Erica Seville, Nicola Smith, Garry MacDonald, Morag Ayers, Charlotte Brown.  October 2017. 

This report summarises the initial findings of the project. In this first portion of the project, we examined the productivity impacts of the 14 November 2016 Kaikoura earthquake on four New Zealand Government agencies based in Wellington.