Wellington eyes Christchurch rebuild opportunities

JAZIAL CROSSLEY AND HAMISH MCNICOL
Last updated 05:00 05/03/2013
SCIRT design manager Stephen Wright, left, Thundermaps managing director Clint van Marrewijk and Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown discuss possibilities at the WellCan forum on Monday.
DIEGO OPATOWSKI/Fairfax NZ
PROJECT MAPPING: SCIRT design manager Stephen Wright, left, Thundermaps managing director Clint van Marrewijk and Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown discuss possibilities at the WellCan forum on Monday.

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Rebuilding Christchurch

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Hundreds of Wellington businesses attended the WellCan forum in the capital yesterday to find out how they could work on the $30 billion-plus rebuild in Christchurch.

ThunderMaps managing director Clint van Marrewijk went to find out what opportunities there were for his geodata mapping software business. The company, which he started in June last year, embeds maps into websites tracking the location of data such as earthquake sites for state agency GeoNet and road closures for NZ Transport Authority.

"I wanted to see if maybe we could work with mapping hazards in Christchurch like pot holes or roadworks."

IT consultancy Theta's Wellington staff had been working with the Stronger Christchurch Rebuild Infrastructure Team (SCIRT) for some time. For the huge job of creating project management information provided to SCIRT staff to track progress, Theta had to learn how to work collaboratively with one of its rivals, Intergen.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, opening the forum, said work on the rebuild was a great opportunity for Wellington and Canterbury businesses to connect, collaborate and build commercial success for both regions.

"We've got a relatively quiet economy in Wellington, there is not the job growth we're really seeking. Wellington businesses can increase capacity, existing businesses can offer new skill sets and we're able to hire Cantabrians on the ground, working with Christchurch because it's not about emptying Wellington."

ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie issued a note of caution, suggesting people approaching work on Christchurch consider the potential for re-investment rather than solely focusing on the needs of the rebuild.

"Christchurch is going to put real pressures on this economy, they are going to tell the Reserve Bank to increase interest rates which is the last thing New Zealand needs," he said. New Zealanders were going to be paying for the rebuild over their lifetimes in EQC levies, insurance charges and changed insurance standards, Bagrie said.

New Zealand needed to consider its natural resource potential for Canterbury investment, citing water as a good example.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said: "To repair the central city is going to be a 20 to 25-year programme. There is going to be an enormous amount of cash that falls into Christchurch through the insurance process."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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