Preliminary observations of the impacts the 22 February Christchurch earthquake on organisations and the economy: A report from the field (22 February - 22 March 2011)

Joanne Stevenson, Hlekiwe Kachali, Zachary Whitman, Erica Seville, John Vargo, Thomas Wilson

New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering Bulletin Vol. 44, No. 2, June 2011, pp65-76.  DOI:


On 22 February 2011, Canterbury and its largest city Christchurch experienced its second major earthquake within six months. The region is facing major economic and organisational challenges in the aftermath of these events.  Approximately 25% of all buildings in the Christchurch CBD have been ―red tagged‖ or deemed unsafe to enter.  The New Zealand Treasury estimates that the combined cost of the February earthquake and the September earthquake is approximately NZ$15 billion[2]. This paper examines the national and regional economic climate prior to the event, discusses the immediate economic implications of this event, and the challenges and opportunities faced by organisations affected by this event. In order to facilitate recovery of the Christchurch area, organisations must adjust to a new norm; finding ways not only to continue functioning, but to grow in the months and years following these earthquakes. Some organisations relocated within days to areas that have been less affected by the earthquakes. Others are taking advantage of government subsidised aid packages to help retain their employees until they can make long-term decisions about the future of their organisation. This paper is framed as a ―report from the field‖ in order to provide insight into the early recovery scenario as it applies to organisations affected by the February 2011 earthquake. It is intended both to inform and facilitate discussion about how organisations can and should pursue recovery in Canterbury, and how organisations can become more resilient in the face of the next crisis.

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