Today we continue profiling business leaders recognised by the Queen for their service to the country.

Chief executive at the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce Peter Townsend says his organisation has acted as a "safe pair of hands" for businesses in the region since the Christchurch earthquakes.

The 65-year-old, who lost his house in the disaster, has been appointed a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business and the community.

Townsend, who has spent 17 years leading the CECC, said he would be "seriously considering retirement" if not for the earthquakes.

"The earthquake, for personal reasons and for commercial reasons, has effectively locked me into Christchurch for some time yet so [there's] no sign of retirement on the horizon at this stage," he said.


Townsend said the CECC, which employs 31 people, had been a "pivotal business support agency" after the quakes.

"The Chamber of Commerce, together with other agencies, has acted as a safe pair of hands for business in our community and the good news is we've had remarkable business survival. The churn rate for businesses has been almost no different post-earthquake to pre-earthquake - in other words it means business survival has been quite extraordinary," he said.

The human tragedy of the earthquakes was "horrific" and the material damage "unbelievable", but Townsend said there was now a chance to recreate the centre of the city, which will provide "enormous economic opportunity for the people of Christchurch".

"The way I describe the commercial opportunity is we've effectively locked in three years of Fonterra's total export earnings into the city of Christchurch ... that's insurance-driven capital that's locked into our community," he said.

Townsend also serves on a number of boards, including New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the business grants committee for Callaghan Innovation.

Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.