Following the destructive earthquake in Christchurch in February 2011, the New Zealand Government set up a time-limited, locally based government department dedicated to leading and coordinating the city's recovery. To speed decision-making, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) would report directly to the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, the Hon Gerry Brownlee, who had been given extensive powers by the CER Act to override hindrances. CERA would have to work with the existing network of government agencies in Christchurch, with four local government entities, Ngāi Tahu the local iwi, the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and private insurers, as well as the wider private sector. A major challenge for CERA and its chief executive, Roger Sutton, was to inform thousands of affected residents across the greater Christchurch community, about possible life-changing decisions such as land zoning. This is the first of a two-part case. It can be used to aid understanding of how the process of recovery from natural disaster can be managed. This complex and highly significant area is much less well-examined than the immediate emergency response. Among other things, the case offers background for a discussion of appropriate governance, debate about the timing and mechanisms for community involvement, and exploration of effective communication and consultation. There are prompts for further exploration about information-sharing between agencies, which also opens up some questions about the role of insurance and insurers.
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