Wood producers urged to 'plug into' quake rebuild
Marlborough wood producers and timber processors are "beautifully placed" to help rebuild Christchurch after the earthquakes, former Labour MP Brendon Burns says.
Mr Burns told a Marlborough Forest Industry Association seminar in Blenheim on Saturday the Christchurch rebuild was the biggest economic stimulus package since Sir Julius Vogel put in the railways, with about $30 billion estimated to be spent.
The one-term Christchurch Central MP said the city needed about 32,000 new houses - as many as there were in all of Marlborough - and another 100,000 houses had to be rebuilt. Only one in every nine commercial buildings in the Christchurch central business district were still there.
"Timber is beautifully placed. There are real benefits to building in timber, and I say that as a person who lost one lovely two-storey house and two electorate offices, all built in permanent materials.
"You need to get that message firmly cemented in, as the rebuild is going to take off soon."
Marlborough Forest Industry president Michael Cambridge said the seminar was organised to highlight some of the innovative technology that meant wood was a good choice to rebuild Christchurch in style and with buildings that would attract residents and tourists.
One of the participants in the seminar, Glenroy Housing of Blenheim, had a house in Sumner survive the quake undamaged despite being near the centre of the earthquake. Glenroy has spent 30 years developing a modular wood building system in its Blenheim factory and was supreme winner in the Master Builders House of the Year contest last year.
Mr Burns said the wood industry had a lot to contribute to Christchurch, but it needed to have a champion "at the highest level" to be visible and to push the benefits of building in timber, for seismic benefits, environmental benefits and aesthetic benefits.
"I'm not hearing a strong vocal voice for timber - the benefits of building in wood. You need someone visible and a champion for it.
"In the $30 billion rebuild of Christchurch, timber should be the building material of choice."
Blenheim was 3 hours' drive from Christchurch and Mr Burns said the Marlborough District Council and Marlborough Chamber of Commerce had recognised this with the Macro forum aimed at developing links with the Christchurch to help business in the region contribute to the rebuild.
"We have a geographic advantage that can put roof trusses on a truck and run them down to Christchurch. Many more components, joinery and other equipment, will be needed.
"We can plug into this."
Blenheim was not alone in recognising this, he said.
- The Marlborough Express