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Potential investors in Christchurch and Canterbury addressed

Speech in Auckland by Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel to potential investors in Christchurch and Canterbury


12 February 2014


Christchurch Mayor emphasises Canterbury's economic strength to potential investors
The Mayor of Christchurch is encouraging potential investors wanting to invest in New Zealand to see Christchurch in the context of the whole region, where the Canterbury economy has remained very strong.
The Mayor Lianne Dalziel made her remarks during a panel discussion at a forum organised by the New Zealand China Council in Auckland this morning.
The Mayor was invited to speak about the potential for investment in Christchurch and Canterbury at the first APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting for 2014.
The New Zealand China Council hosted a forum at SkyCity Convention Centre during the meeting to help a 35-strong delegation from China to communicate with New Zealand business leaders.
During the forum the Mayor took part in a panel discussion on the theme of investment opportunities and partnerships.
The purpose of the Mayor's address was to emphasis the strength and solidity of the economy in Canterbury as giving confidence to all investors, despite the earthquakes.
The Mayor said the New Zealand Treasury had estimated the total cost of the rebuild at $40B.
"A significant investment will be made by the government, but it is private investors, insurers and reinsurers that will be financing around two-thirds of that spend," Mayor Lianne Dalziel told the forum which also included about 50 local business leaders and investors.
"People who see the central city of Christchurch today often see devastation.
"I look at Christchurch in its place in the region and as a gateway to the South Island and Antarctica and I see a world of possibility and opportunity. I would like to invite you to look at Christchurch in the same way," said the Mayor.
"It would be a mistake to think that the rebuild is the whole picture. The reality is that as far as Canterbury's economy is concerned, you could be forgiven for not knowing the earthquakes had happened. This is because the economy of the region is very strong," she said.
"According to Treasury, New Zealand's GDP growth is forecast to be 2.4% in the year ending March 2014. But the GDP growth in Canterbury is much stronger. In the year to September 2013, Canterbury's GDP was 7.8% and is expected to remain at that level for a considerable time," said the Mayor.

The Mayor's full speech follows:

As Mayor of Christchurch, I am here to promote my city and the wider Canterbury region when you are considering future investment opportunities in New Zealand.

We are approaching the third anniversary of the earthquake which struck Christchurch on 22 February 2011. I am sure you are aware of the loss of life and the devastation that has occurred.

The story that is not often told is the fact that if an earthquake, with the highest peak ground acceleration in modern records, had hit another country the death toll and the damage to the buildings and the environment could have been much greater.

Our city was protected by standards and codes that arose from an earthquake that occurred in the city of Napier in 1931. Our building code in Christchurch has been strengthened again since the earthquake. It was not designed for such an earthquake so close to the city.

What has made our sequence of earthquakes unprecedented is the level and nature of insurance cover. And it is this that has created a unique opportunity.

The New Zealand Treasury has estimated the total cost of the rebuild at $40B. A significant investment will be made by the government, but it is private investors, insurers and reinsurers that will be financing around two-thirds of that spend.

It would be a mistake to think that the rebuild is the whole picture. The reality is that as far as Canterbury's economy is concerned, you could be forgiven for not knowing the earthquakes had happened. This is because the economy of the region is very strong.

This reflects the strength of the dairying and forestry sector on our very productive Canterbury Plains along with contributions from information and communications technology, tourism and fishing. Our gateway city status means our international airport - voted the best in New Zealand - is welcoming record numbers of tourists from China. And these numbers are predicted to grow strongly. The recent charter flight by China Southern airline that flew directly into Christchurch from Guangdong has given us hope that direct services will become a reality.

Our Port of Lyttelton in the latest year saw a 4.5% rise in total container volumes to a record 351,217 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) and a 9.2% rise in volumes at the Lyttelton Container Terminal.

We are one of the world's five gateway cities to Antarctica. We host the New Zealand, American, Italian and Korean Antarctica Research programmes, which means regular contact with international scientists. This reinforces Christchurch as a centre of excellence in research, science and technology, including knowledge around the impacts of climate change.

We are already a centre of excellence around the production of food, sustainable farming practices and security of water supply. Embedded in our province, universities and research institutes are the answers to the questions that many countries are only beginning to grapple with.

Our Council is investing in a Sensing City project which means we will be able to test cause and effect in real time from nutrients in the soil to congestion on city streets - a capacity that is unique in the world.

One of the results of the earthquakes has been a substantial renewal of the infrastructure that was damaged. Altogether a total of $2B is being spent on renewing underground services, electricity lines and roads. Soon, we will have one of the newest cities in the world. We want to future proof our city.

According to Treasury, New Zealand's GDP growth is forecast to be 2.4% in the year ending March 2014. But the GDP growth in Canterbury is much stronger. In the year to September 2013, Canterbury's GDP was 7.8% and is expected to remain at that level for a considerable time.

The opportunities for investment in Christchurch and Canterbury in the short term will focus on the rebuild of the city, however I would also like to emphasise the long term investment opportunities that exist in the wider region. Investment in irrigation will drive further growth in the underlying economy which is already performing very strongly.

In Christchurch, my city council is developing a city-wide plan to enable us to partner with business and our community. As many of you will know the third year after a disaster, although challenging for many people individually, can be the tipping point in recovery.

Our city council believes that we can be a true catalyst for transformation and innovation.

Central government has a role in Christchurch through a government department that was established for a 5 year period. They will have completed 3 years in April. Our Council is now developing a transition plan to enable us to prepare for resuming our full responsibilities as soon as possible.

People who see the central city of Christchurch today often see devastation - I look at Christchurch in its place in the region and as a gateway to the South Island and Antarctica and I see a world of possibility and opportunity. I would like to invite you to look at Christchurch in the same way.

ends

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