Quake rebuild to take two years longer

01:20, Aug 16 2012

The repair and rebuild of Canterbury homes will probably take seven years rather than five, Westpac Bank says.

But when the rebuild finally gathers momentum and hits a peak it will be almost twice as big as the construction boom of 2004-2005, the bank estimates.

The bank released a report today summing up how the reconstruction of Christchurch is tracking.

It said it was difficult to get a handle on that because the data was not collected by one agency but had to be gathered "far and wide".

The total rebuild and repair build is about $20 billion and Westpac's chief economist Dominick Stephens said many people might not realise that the largest chunk of that cost is about $13b for residential homes.

While the official estimates are that homes will be repaired or rebuilt within five years, the bank's impression was that these figures were being taken with a grain of salt in Christchurch.


Westpac is preparing its forecasts on the conservative assumption of a 7-year residential rebuild.

The rebuild of commercial buildings including the central city will probably cost about $4b and will happen over a decade or more.

The peak in residential repairs and rebuilding was likely to start late next year and continue through 2014 and start to slowly decline through 2015 and 2016.

The economy of Canterbury shrank markedly in 2011 in the aftermath of the February and June earthquakes.

However, Westpac said Canterbury's economy is now the fast growing in New Zealand, although it is bouncing off a low base.

There are no official estimates of regional growth but National Bank estimates Canterbury is growing at more than 2 per cent.

Stephens said electronic card transactions were a very good indicator of how a regional economy was going and they showed Canterbury spending was back to where it was pre-quakes. Other regions had grown since then though.

Another very good indicator which Westpac had gathered was on notices of work on public roads showing a sharp increase since the beginning of the year.

According to official stats, a net 10,600 people left Canterbury in the 12 months to the end of June last year.

Canterbury had 560,700 people then. The next official stats on regional population are released in October.

Westpac said migration data is suggesting there are more people coming to the region now than leaving it.