Economic and social reconnaissance: Kaikōura earthquake 2016

Joanne Stevenson, Julia Becker, Nicholas Cradock-Henry, Sarb Johal, David Johnston, Caroline Orchiston, Erica Seville

Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering 50 (2), 346-355. DOI: 10.5459/bnzsee.50.2.343-351


This paper provides a near-term reconnaissance of the economic and social impacts of the November 14th, 2016 Kaikōura earthquakes and tsunami. The effect of this event on the national economy is relatively minimal. The main impacts at the national scale include short-term falls in tax revenues from the affected regions and the Government’s NZ$1 billion spending increase for reconstruction activities. Disruptions at the regional and industry-level are far more significant. Approximately 11 per cent of office space in the nation’s capital of Wellington was closed in the week following the event and cordons were erected around several city blocks due to safety concerns. Damage to transport infrastructure is having the most significant economic impact, both in terms of the direct cost of repair and the indirect impacts on businesses whose supply chains have been disrupted. The Kaikōura District’s two largest industries, tourism and primary production, lost important infrastructure and essential functions were hampered by transport disruptions. In the tourism industry, ongoing safety concerns and reduced amenities for tourists will reduce trade in the coming season. Primary production businesses face increased transportation and land remediation costs and the closure of fisheries while affected shellfish habitats recover. Communities in the districts most affected by the Kaikōura earthquakes experienced the loss of critical utility services, the loss of homes, and temporary isolation. The Kaikōura earthquake has starkly highlighted the vulnerability of key infrastructure and transportation routes to natural hazards. It is also a timely reminder of the need for New Zealand to be prepared and to continue efforts to build resilience.

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