DCL and Otakaro, leading Christchurch's rebuild getting paid outrageous salaries

By Shelley Robinson

Otakaro Ltd, a Crown-owned company tasked with delivering the anchor projects for the Christchurch rebuild, has an average salary of $123,333. Photo / Christchurch Star
Otakaro Ltd, a Crown-owned company tasked with delivering the anchor projects for the Christchurch rebuild, has an average salary of $123,333. Photo / Christchurch Star

Two publicly-owned companies spearheading the city's rebuild have average salary rates in excess of $120,000.

Development Christchurch Ltd, a city council controlled organisation, could average about $135,714, while Otakaro Ltd, a Crown-owned company tasked with delivering the anchor projects, has an average salary of $123,333.

Anglican Advocacy, a social justice agency, said organisations like the Government and city council which pay large salaries are "losing touch" with those struggling in the post-earthquake city.

Manager Jolyon White (left) said they should lead by example.

"Yes, those rates are wrong, but we as a society are accepting of that. We are a society of too much with an endless acceptance of too little. I would have less of a problem with people being highly paid if they weren't also leaving people at the bottom end with insufficient [amounts] to raise their families on."

Canterbury's average income is $30,100, and 35.8 per cent have an annual income of $20,000 or less, according to the 2013 census.

But both DCL and Otakaro said they had to pay market rates in order to attract the right people to the roles of rebuilding the city.

Neither could provide salary bands.

DCL chief executive Rob Hall said: "To attract top candidates who will make a real difference for Christchurch and deliver results in their areas of expertise, DCL must offer competitive market salaries."

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the city council did not set the salaries and equating the average salary was mis-leading for DCL because there were only 14 people.

"If anyone needs to take the lead on this, it's the state sector, where remuneration of government department officials continues to drive expectations," she said.

Crs Raf Manji, Phil Clearwater and Yani Johanson said they would not comment on DCL salaries.

But Cr Johanson said: "At a general level, I personally believe that council should be considering the issue of, and reporting on pay relativity, across the organisation and encouraging its companies to do the same."

Otakaro's staffing structure, released to The Star, states it has 90 employees - much trimmer than Cera's 357 in December 2014.

It has six departments with an emphasis on project management.

Otakaro's average salary is higher than that of Cera in 2015 which was $109,910.

An Otakaro spokesman said a comparison with other Government departments would not be "meaningful" as it was a Crown company.

Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration Gerry Brownlee would not comment as it was "a matter for Otakaro".

But Labour MP Megan Woods said the salaries were "high for Christchurch" but the real test was whether it was value for money.

"He (Mr Brownlee) can't hide behind the fact it is a Crown-owned company to avoid answering questions and to be held accountable," she said.

- Christchurch Star

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