Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority

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Canterbury Earthquake
Recovery Authority
Te Mana Haumanu ki Waitaha
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority logo.jpg
Agency overview
Formed29 March 2011
Dissolved18 April 2016
JurisdictionNew Zealand
HeadquartersLevel 8, HSBC House,
62 Worcester Blvd,
Canterbury 8140
Annual budgetVote Canterbury Earthquake Recovery
Total budget for 2015/16
Ministers responsible
Agency executive
  • John Ombler,
    Acting Chief Executive

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA; Māori: Te Mana Haumanu ki Waitaha) was the public service department of New Zealand charged with coordinating the rebuild of Christchurch and the surrounding areas following the 22 February 2011 earthquake. After it was disestablished on 18 April 2016, CERA's functions were taken over by a variety of other agencies.


CERA was formed in response to the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, and its establishment was announced late March 2011. It had wide-ranging powers and could suspend laws and regulations for the purpose of earthquake recovery.[2] The department operated for five years, with annual reviews.[3] CERA was disestablished on 18 April 2016.[4]

Roger Sutton commenced as CERA's CEO on 13 June 2011.[5] He had previously been CEO of Orion New Zealand, the electricity distribution company for the Christchurch area. Sutton resigned as CEO on 17 November 2014 effective on 31 January 2015 when CERA was downgraded from a public service department to a departmental agency within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC).[6] John Ombler, CERA's establishment CEO was appointed on 19 November 2014 effective on 1 December to be Acting CEO until a permanent Chief Executive is named.[7][8] CERA received criticism for paying panel members $1000 per day,[9] approximately 10 times the national average.[10]

CERA's powers were challenged in the High Court after it ordered the demolition of Wharetiki House at 854 Colombo Street. The owner of the house wanted to restore it after it had suffered damage in the February 2011 earthquake. Justice Whata dismissed the challenge on 20 June 2011, and the building was demolished the following day.[11]

In October 2011, CERA hoped to have all of the Christchurch Central City open again in April 2012.[12] In April 2012 the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) was established as a unit within CERA to focus on rebuilding the central business district of Christchurch.[13] A public consultation on the organisation's transport plan closed on 1 February 2013.[14] As of October 2013, Cabinet had not signed off on the plan.

At its peak, the organisation employed 357 staff. Its functions were taken over by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and the Ministry of Health in December 2015, and the DPMC on 1 March 2016. Within the DPMC, the Greater Christchurch Group is responsible for part of the functions that CERA used to carry out. In April 2016, other functions went to newly established organisations: the Crown company Otakaro Ltd (responsible for delivering anchor projects) and the council-Crown agency Regenerate Christchurch (responsible for developing regeneration plans for Christchurch, including the residential red zone). When CERA was disbanded, it still had 170 staff.[15]

A report released by the auditor-general in February 2017 was critical of CERA's performance, citing tensions with Christchurch City Council as one of the reasons for delays with implementing projects. CERA was praised for the effective production of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan, but then was "less successful" with the implementation of the various projects that the plan had identified. The minister who had been responsible for CERA, Gerry Brownlee, dismissed the report as "unbalanced", while the mayor of Christchurch, Lianne Dalziel, stated that she "always believed the recovery should be a collaborative partnership between the Crown and council".[16]


  1. ^ "Total Appropriations for Each Vote". Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  2. ^ "New authority will deliver for Canterbury" (Press release). New Zealand Government. 29 March 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  3. ^ Martin Kay and John Hartevelt (29 March 2011). "Five-year quake rebuild task". Stuff. Fairfax. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  4. ^ "CERA has been disestablished". Department for the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Roger Sutton appointed quake recovery czar". Stuff. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
  6. ^ " - Statement on the resignation of Roger Sutton". Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  7. ^ " - Minister welcomes appointment of John Ombler". Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  8. ^ "Acting CERA boss appointed, Sutton sent home". The National Business Review. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  9. ^ Williams, David (20 August 2011). "'Outrage' over $1000 a day pay for panel". The Press. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  10. ^ "New Zealand Income Survey: June 2011 quarter". Statistics New Zealand. 6 October 2011.
  11. ^ Heather, Ben (27 July 2011). "Bid to save historic house fails". The Press. p. A12. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  12. ^ Heather, Ben (15 October 2011). "City Mall opening may be delayed". The Press. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  13. ^ "New unit for the rebuild of central Christchurch" (Press release). New Zealand Government. 18 April 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  14. ^ "Chch residents urged to contribute to plan". 3 News NZ. 24 January 2013.
  15. ^ Wright, Michael; Hume, Myles (17 April 2016). "More than 100 Cera staff get new rebuild jobs". The Press. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  16. ^ Truebridge, Nick; Redmond, Adele (9 February 2017). "Tensions 'delayed rebuild'". The Press. p. A1. Retrieved 9 February 2017.

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