100 Resilient Cities

Greater Christchurch

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Resilience is a common term in Greater Christchurch over the past five years.

No matter what extent to which we are familiar with this word in our day-to-day lives, it is important that we collectively understand the concept of resilience. We know that we will encounter future challenges. This is not simply about preparing our infrastructure or our built environment and it’s not about bouncing back to the way things used to be. For us, resilience will be about understanding the risks and challenges we face and developing ways to adapt and co-create a new normal. The strength of our resilience lies in us, not just as individuals, but as communities and whānau.

This Resilient Greater Christchurch Plan enables us as city and district leaders to work together to enable and empower our communities to face the future with confidence. We see this resilience plan as enabling the review of the strategy to occur with a resilience lens and an ongoing commitment from each of us to visible collaborative leadership. As we shift from recovery to regeneration, we can restate the importance of collaboration; between the city, the districts and the region, Central Government, the Canterbury District Health Board and most importantly with the many and varied communities that make up this special part of New Zealand.

01 Connect We are connected communities living in adaptable places.

02 Participate We are a community that participate in shaping our future.

03 Prosper We are prosperous by sustaining the vitality of the natural environment, fostering innovation and attracting people.

04 Understand We understand our risks to be better prepared for future challenges.

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We are connected communities living in adaptable places.

Connections between people and the places they live create a sense of community. They are also critical components of resilience.

Greater Christchurch has strong communities but the earthquakes caused change. Some people were forced to move away from earthquake-damaged areas, and others used the repair of earthquake damaged homes as an opportunity to sell and relocate. There has also been a large inflow of migrants to take up work in Greater Christchurch to help rebuild the city.

The change has disrupted many community connections, and in growth areas has created new communities where networks between people need to be created. Without focus on whānaungatanga, or community building, we fail to learn from our post-earthquake experience. It was the power of people, through manaakitanga, that enabled us to cope and recover. Knowing our neighbours, having recognisable and accessible local leaders, and having people to turn to are critical to the resilience of our communities.

Kaitiakitanga emphasises that we must nurture the places we live in, as much as we nurture the relationships between people. Under this goal is the need to ensure our urban environments are inclusive and adaptable.

The availability of safe, communal places and spaces where people can meet is at the heart of a community and of tūrangawaewae. These places are a place to create memories, foster connections with people and generate a sense of belonging. More widely, the ability of our neighbourhoods to satisfy our needs is at the heart of resilience.

Within parts of Greater Christchurch, local communities lack convenient access to local facilities, including sources of nutritious food, while in others people do not feel safe in their neighborhoods.

Affordable, quality housing is also at the heart of community needs. One of the most chronic stresses present across Greater Christchurch is the lack of  affordable and quality housing. Average incomes fall short of what households can afford to pay for housing, whilst the quality of rental housing can affect people’s health. Taking positive steps to improve the quality of our housing stock and to encourage the development of the types and sizes of homes we need is a positive investment in a resilient future.

In addressing the two guiding principles, the key is for government agencies and councils to facilitate grassroots relationships and networks. These will become a more enduring way to help support people and reduce levels of dependency on public services. To build effective relationships with Ngāi Tahu, there needs to be wider acknowledgement of the enduring ancestral and cultural ties of Māori people that underpin their connectedness to places, and the social structures of whānau, hapu and iwi that offer lessons for wider community resilience.


We are a community that participate in shaping our future.

A community where people contribute ideas and participate in decisionmaking
is one that cares about its future.

In the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes local councils, government agencies and community organisations were placed in an overwhelming situation that in some instances exceeded their capacity. In response, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), was established by Central Government and was given resources and powers to drive the response and recovery phases.

At a grassroots level, local communities, energised by the contributions they had made in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, felt empowered to express clear views about how their communities could be built back better. During 2011 and 2012, this community energy was harnessed by councils and government agencies to help shape plans for recovery, notably the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan.

However as time has passed, different opinions have emerged about leadership and the ability to contribute. For communities in Selwyn and Waimakariri, sudden rapid growth and recovery has required careful planning and investment which will, in time, improve the overall viability of these communities. For Ngāi Tahu, the earthquake recovery process has been a watershed period in establishing a stronger expression of rangatiratanga. Through legislation and positive influence, Papatipu Rūnanga have been empowered to inform, shape and embed cultural values, narratives and aspirations into the civic and private developments.

Within Christchurch City, where the damage was most extensive, slow progress on major projects, wrangling over insurance and the draining experience of living in a damaged city have taken their toll. This is particularly true in the eastern suburbs. Community leaders have become exhausted while trust in governance has been eroded by decisions made using legislative powers, often behind closed doors.

This programme of action responds to the positive and negative experiences by looking to reinvigorate community whanaungatanga, particularly in the way that leaders, councils and government agencies engage communities and devolve responsibility, built on trust, to the community level.

In addressing the two guiding principles, government agencies and councils will work in a joined-up way to develop opportunities to actively engage and empower communities to drive change. This means supporting and building trust in the true spirit of civic partnership. Furthering effective relationships with Ngāi Tahu will build on the positive momentum that has emerged from earthquake recovery governance arrangements by co-creating structures, agendas and action that resolves outstanding grievances, but more positively helps forge shared direction for the future.


We are prosperous by sustaining the vitality of the natural environment, fostering innovation and attracting people.

Prosperity covers an array of values and wellbeings including tangible measures, such as material wealth, as well as measures of health and the notion of ecosystem service benefits. The resilience of Greater Christchurch’s prosperity is based on sustaining our environment, nurturing people to maximise their potential, diversifying our output (particularly by embracing innovation to generate higher value output) and making connections nationally and internationally.

Whānaungatanga remains as important as ever to establish and develop trading partnerships. Our ability to contribute quality products, skills and knowledge in international partnerships can help protect us from global economic changes. At a strategic level, building relationships with global consumers is essential in attracting tourism, people and ideas that support a modern innovative economy.

Attracting new people, while still supporting and nurturing our own people, is essential to rebalance our ageing population and workforce. Investing in community, recreational, environmental and cultural facilities and services, as well as being able to offer good jobs and a safe healthy environment, helps retain existing residents and attract young skilled migrants.

Tohungatanga is at the heart of innovation and our ability to respond to the pace of technological change. The world is experiencing rapid interconnected technological, societal, environmental and geo-political change which creates both opportunities and challenges for individuals, businesses and cities. Greater Christchurch is well-positioned to respond to these challenges and opportunities with strong education and research infrastructure that can support and foster innovation. Many ideas, businesses and social enterprises were borne out of the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence and provide an important foundation for building prosperity.

Underpinning a prosperous economy is kaitiakitanga. Greater Christchurch is situated among a stunning backdrop of hills, mountains, rivers and beaches. Centuries ago, it was this rich, natural abundance that first drew people to our region. Today, our natural environment remains our most important asset, underpinning our regional agricultural economy, attracting visitors and new residents from around the world, and providing essential ecosystem services.

Government agencies and councils support the two guiding principles by working together to build confidence and invest in people and enterprises.Taking steps to safeguard the restoration of our natural environment will support the foundation of our prosperity. Effective relationships with Ngāi Tahu will be founded on supporting growth and diversification of Māori business, improving skills, and collaborating in new ventures.


We understand our risks to be better prepared for future challenges.

Following the Canterbury earthquakes, individuals, communities and agencies in Greater Christchurch have an improved understanding of the need to be prepared for emergencies, as well as the many impacts of earthquakes. The key to planning for the future resilience of the region is to help people draw on consistent knowledge about other risks and hazards that they can understand and relate to.

Understanding the risk from disaster is a worldwide issue. In 2013 the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that economic losses from disasters were out of control. The direct global financial costs of disasters from 2000 to 2013 amounted to an estimated US$2.5 trillion. As a response, the 2015 World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction approved the Sendai Framework which has four priorities for action to prevent and reduce exposure to disaster risks – understanding, managing/avoiding, mitigating and preparing.

For Greater Christchurch, tohungatanga is essential as a basis to be better prepared for future challenges, while rangatiratanga is needed to help our communities make complex decisions about how we prepare for the future. Strong leadership is needed to help us balance our responses, which will need to consider risk reduction, risk transfer and risk acceptance.

To truly understand and prepare for future risks, we will need to make informed decisions about our vulnerabilities, how much we are prepared to pay as communities and households to safeguard and offset those risks, and whether we can live with the residual risks. This approach applies to the risks of natural hazards, financial decisions, travel, sporting activities and even everyday activities like driving a car or crossing the road.

These decisions inevitably cross over into kaitiakitanga – how our generation makes important calls on the future use of land and resources, and safeguards our lives and livelihoods.

In addressing the two guiding principles, government agencies and councils have a central leadership role in developing a shared platform of knowledge and understanding. People need to know the risks and be involved in decision-making on responses that affect them and future generations. Effective relationships with Ngāi Tahu will be founded on joint decision-making around risk that takes a wider cultural perspective on the relationships between people and places, embedding the role of stewardship during our lifetimes.

Read Greater Christchurch's Resilience Strategy