We’ve hit the ground running in Christchurch
Taylors has officially arrived in Christchurch New Zealand and have hit the ground running on a demanding and fast-paced project.
Following the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 Christchurch has been in a period of recovery. The physical and psychological damage caused has made a significant mark on the City and the surrounds. Taylors is pleased to form part of the project team assisting in the rebuild of the City.
Forming part of a team working for a major insurance provider, Taylors are carrying out an investigation and assessment of residential properties which have been damaged beyond the cap for direct Government funding for repairs. The properties we are specialising in are the multi-unit multi-insured, which are best described as groupings of houses of which are each insured under different providers. Taylors’ role in the project is to assess the damage to determine if each house is best classed as a repair or a rebuild, following which we will lead a process of approvals to deliver an appropriate solution to restore the residents’ home to pre-earthquake condition.
The experience of inspecting numerous properties, speaking to owners and occupiers who have lived through the earthquakes and now are part of the recovery, and being stationed on-the-ground and living in Christchurch day-to-day has provided me the opportunity to better understand the current feel around this City. The feelings are best described as sadness, frustration, angst, and anticipation.
When first arriving in Christchurch I did what the large majority of people do when arriving to a new City, you go and explore the City Centre. Through the media I had knowledge of the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, however I quickly realised that I had little comprehension of the extent of damage which had occurred throughout the City, and the slumber and empty state it has left. It’s reminiscent of a City which has been through a war, with significantly damaged buildings, abandoned businesses and homes, piles of rubble, road closures and detours.
It’s extremely saddening to look through a dusty window and see retail stores with clothes still on the racks and cafés with coffee cups and tomato sauce bottles on tables, with these businesses left as they were when the earthquake of 2011 occurred. It is a sobering experience to see first-hand what this City and its people have been through, and it makes you want to do everything possible to assist in the rebuild.
Although the recovery appears slow, the resilience of the people here is apparent and encouraging. The Government, via the Earthquake Commission (EQC), have carried out large-scale testing and assessment throughout the City in a bid to identify appropriate places to build and at what structural composition. Although some areas through the City have been classed as ‘’red zone’’ which are effectively no-build zones, the Government has leapt at the opportunity to create a more liveable City with a plan for linear connecting green open space. This linear open space will build on the already characteristic greenery of the City, typified by the iconic area of Hagley Park which is an approximate 165 hectare area of public open space ‘’reserved forever as a public park, and shall be open for the recreation and enjoyment of the public’’.
Another innovative idea is the Christchurch City Re: Start Mall which is a sea container mall born from the need to breathe life into the Christchurch central city following the devastation of the 2011 earthquake in particular. The Mall now accommodates over 50 businesses which include retailers, food stalls, bakeries, cafés, and the Quake City museum. Through the weekend the Mall is abuzz with people, creating the opportunity for market stalls and street performers. The Re: Start Mall is one of the top 10 ‘must visit’ places in the world according to the Lonely Planet Guide.
Further creativity similar to the Re: Start Mall are ‘’pop-up’’ businesses, which are stationed in and around the City. These vary from a tent-club which operates over the weekend, to organic coffee stalls, and taco stands. These small ideas add character to the City and act to bring vibrancy and life back to Christchurch.
Taking a positive from the slow recovery of the City centre is the opportunity for the inner suburbs of Christchurch to thrive. The inner suburbs on the edge of the City have been activated and now host class restaurants, cafés, bars and weekend markets which are attractive not only to tourists but also to Christchurch residents. These areas now have a base from which they can continue to grow, even as the revival of the City Centre occurs.
My experience in Christchurch to date has been extremely exciting and rewarding, with residents often incredibly grateful should the topic of why I’m here come into conversation. I know myself and the Taylors team are thrilled that we have the opportunity to contribute to the rebuild of Christchurch and assisting to restore the lives of its residents.
Operations Manager – Christchurch