'Recognition of quake trials'

TESS MCCLURE
Last updated 05:00 31/12/2013

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Peter Townsend has been honoured for his service to Christchurch business - but he says it is the post-quake efforts of the wider business community that the award really recognises.

"I take this in recognition of Christchurch, and in recognition of where we've been and where we're going.

"It's a recognition of some of the trials and tribulations we've been through, and the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce acting as a safe pair of hands for business".

Townsend, chief executive of the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce (CECC), has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to business and the community.

He described the award as "a great privilege and great honour," which he would accept on behalf of the CECC, the business community at large, and his family, "who are the other stakeholders that I deal with every day".

Townsend has been prominent voice in the city's rebuild, predicting early on the full cost of rebuild and urging council to take bold moves to reconstruct well.

He helped set up Recover Canterbury immediately after the 2010 earthquake.

The organisation supported 7000 local businesses and kept at least $39 million in Canterbury in the earthquake recovery phase.

After ongoing constraints with insurance claims, skills shortages, and consenting delays, Townsend believes the best is yet to come in Christchurch's earthquake recovery.

"As we've dealt with all the frustrations of a post quake environment, we're now starting to see some really big momentum building in terms of the recovery. 2013 was a crossroad year where we moved from post-disaster to early recovery, and 2014 is going to be the year when the balloon really goes up," Townsend said.

He has remained optimistic about economic development in Christchurch, and maintains that the recovery is still only in its beginning stages.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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