Isaacs rises to challenge

RHONDA MARKBY
Last updated 07:09 22/02/2013
Warwick Isaacs
Iain McGregor
REBUILD BOSS: Warwick Isaacs.

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Warwick Isaacs won't be attending any earthquake commemoration services today. He's got a new central city to build and only five years to do it.

That frantic schedule pretty much sums up the last two years for the man who was Timaru District Council's chief executive when the February 22 quake struck.

As the Canterbury Civil Defence management committee's chairman, he had spent time in Christchurch after the September quake.

February 22 effectively marked his last day as council chief executive, although it was another six months before he resigned to take up his role as deconstruction manager for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera). Then in April last year he was given the central city to rebuild, being named head of the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU). And given five years to do so.

"My whole life has changed. I have stepped out of my career. It has been a whole family move, a whole new world for me."

The first 12 months were anything but normal. Now, like many Christchurch residents, he talks about the "new normal".

A year ago he and wife Kaye bought a home in Christchurch and both she and their youngest child, 14-year-old Gabrielle, moved there. Their new home had some earthquake damage needing repair, just like everyone else's, he said.

His new role effectively sees him responsible for rebuilding the city's centre.

"The job is very, very challenging. It is a privilege to have a job like I have got. It is, as I really believe in what I am doing. Particularly in the central city, I believe Christchurch has a huge future. It really needs a fantastic central city to remain as a central city of New Zealand, which is its rightful place."

Mr Isaacs is still responsible for overseeing demolition work and looking after the Crown's relationship with the Christchurch City Council in relation to infrastructure work.

"It is quite a demanding job, and time at home is quite precious . . ."

What Mr Isaacs has become - perhaps unconsciously - is a one-man public relations machine for Christchurch.

He talks about feeling safe living there, of the chances of another serious quake lessening with time. But he sounds like a man who genuinely believes what he says - that the future of Christchurch, especially its inner city, is an exciting prospect.

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- The Timaru Herald

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