Outside tradesmen ready to join Christchurch earthquake cleanup

By Yvonne Tahana

Warwick Quinn, Registered Master Builders Federation chief executive. Photo / Supplied
Warwick Quinn, Registered Master Builders Federation chief executive. Photo / Supplied

Auckland and regional tradesmen are considering sending teams to Christchurch to take part in the estimated $2 billion cleanup - but one South Island industry leader says they are not needed.

A survey of Auckland plumbers, builders and contractors yesterday found many were thinking of sending staff but none had actually committed to the process.

However, Registered Master Builders Federation chief Warwick Quinn said that at this early stage it was impossible to know if Christchurch would need outside labour to get the massive repair job completed.

"I think once we have had a response from the insurance companies' assessors we'll be able to co-ordinate what it means from a local and national perspective."

However, a $2 billion spend equated to about 15 per cent of the annual average spent on building. That amounted to an important stimulus in trying conditions for a sector that employs 160,000, Mr Quinn said.

"It's an awful way to get work because of the suffering and the damage. However, given the industry is still in recession and we're way under what we'd be normally building, we believe we can respond easily."

Given the scale of the job, he said, Christchurch City Council or the Government would need to give consideration to speeding up the building and resource consents process.

"There might need to be emergency legislation. Once the council has got their head around the size of the problem, they'll be thinking about how do they get people on board."

Dave Banks from Auckland's BDL Earthmovers said he had received calls from the southern city from businesses asking whether he would be in a position to work.

He planned to fly down next week to assess the situation, and while it was horrible to say it, the work could not come at a better time.

The business used to employ 16 but was now down to seven. Many in Auckland were finding it tough to find work, Mr Banks said.

"It's not a very nice thing to happen but hopefully it will pull us out of one of the worst periods in 10 years for us."

Jonathan King of Nova Construction said his company was also assessing whether to head south.

He was hoping that council or government measures would be put in place so that "cowboys" did not add to homeowners' misery by doing substandard work.

However, Canterbury Registered Master Builders Association president Richard Field said outside tradespeople should not be too quick to hop on a plane as there were enough local subcontractors to handle the work.

"There's been a shortage of work for the last two years so I don't think there are any issues in getting through this."

- NZ Herald

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